How one quarry brings focus to environment, community and safety
Environmental conservation, community relations and safety are all important aspects of a successful quarry operation, and San Antonio, Texas-based Beckmann Quarry puts a strong focus on all three.
The quarry, a Martin Marietta Materials operation, implements a variety of unique approaches improve in all three areas.
Chance Allen, San Antonio District vice president and general manager of Aggregates for Martin Marietta Materials, says Beckmann Quarry puts a lot of financial and engineering resources toward water recovery.
“We implemented a $6 million water recovery system that allowed us to recover approximately 40 percent of the total water usage at this location,” Allen says. “That was one of the major things from an environmental water conservation program.”
He adds that the site works to clean roads adjacent to the quarry.
“We treat our roads with a unique solution that helps minimize dust, and on top of that we provide water and then a full-time sweeper,” Allen says. “We’re one of the only people that provide a full-time sweeper that actually sweeps the roads that run perpendicular and adjacent to the quarry operation.”
Additionally, the operation uses a system that cleans trucks before they leave the quarry.
“We installed an in-line wheel wash system for the heavy trucks that have to pass through prior to leaving the quarry,” Allen notes. “It’s a fully automated system. It receives a signal that the trucks are about to approach, and then we use a series of high-pressure water jets to wash the lower end and the wheels and tires of the trucks prior to leaving the location.”
Though ensuring the site is conserving water and keeping the roads clean is important, Allen says community relations are a large part of the site’s focus on the environment.
“We are very involved in the local HOAs (homeowner associations) that surround our facility,” Allen says.
He notes that the quarry regularly meets with “key members” of the local communities. Those meetings provide a way for the site to share information with the community and creates a forum for neighbors to ask questions and discuss concerns.
Allen says the quarry tries to address all concerns mentioned at the meetings.
In fact, the local community is the reason the quarry now has a website that offers news and operation activities such as blasting, as well as other quarry related information.
“It also allows the community to sign up for alerts associated with blasting and other things we do at the quarry,” Allen adds. “So if they want to know whether we’re going to be performing blasting at our operation they can be alerted through a text application through their phone.”
Allen notes that the site is always looking for new ways to keeps neighbors informed and communicate with the community, including social media opportunities.
The site is also looking into material and energy recycling and conservation, Allen says.
He notes that there is a huge focus — not only at Beckmann Quarry, but in the entire aggregates industry — on the environment.
“As an industry we’re all very committed and we understand that we need to be focused on being good neighbors and working together for sustainability,” Allen says.
He adds that maintaining open relationships with the local community, focusing on sustainability issues, and communicating those efforts are vital business strategies.
“Working closely with the surrounding community and being open and engaging with them is a big part of our success,” Allen says.
Beckmann Quarry’s work to sustain the environment earned the site a 2014 Gold Environmental Excellence Award from the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) earlier this year.
However, the Environmental Excellence Award is not the only recognition the operation received this year. Martin Marietta also honored Beckmann Quarry with its own 2014 Honor Plant recognition. The internal award recognizes a handful of Martin Marietta operations for environmental excellence, operational excellence and safety.
Allen says the major reason Beckmann Quarry earned the Honor Plant recognition was because of safety.
“Beckmann has gone since 2007 without a reportable incident, which is pretty amazing in the fact that it has over 100 employees,” Allen says. “Not only that, this August, they’ll be celebrating 2 million man hours without a reportable injury. So those are the two big accomplishments on the safety front.”
Allen notes that the way the site approaches safety has resulted in those low numbers.
“One of the things we’ve learned for certain is that safety isn’t just about a process. It’s about culture,” Allen says. “We spend a lot of time focused on the hearts and minds of our employees and reaching out from a cultural standpoint on how we make choices and decisions.”
Allen adds that the operation gets employee families involved in safety programs through what it calls “home safety,” noting that a combination of family involvement and independence in safety programs is an important second step in improving safety.
“[We spend] a lot of time sharing best practices in terms of safety not only with our employees, but with their families and I think its that evolution of culture that has made us very successful,” Allen says. “Once you’ve reached the hearts and minds of your employees from a culture standpoint and they’re independent in making their safe choices and their families are involved, it just brings a lot more value and passion.”