RBA Trophy

Since 2002 the Refined Bitumen Association has presented a trophy at the annual Mineral Products Association Health and Safety Best Practice Awards. See www.safequarry.com. The MPA Safety Award Scheme encourages the submission of entries demonstrating ‘best practice’ in all aspects of the quarrying industry’s activities.

The RBA trophy is awarded to the entry judged to demonstrate best practice in the Bitumen, Asphalt and Contracting section, which includes the receipt and storage of bulk bitumen products. Entries should, as a minimum, reflect adherence to procedures as recommended in RBA publications, including the Guide to Safe Delivery of Bitumen.

Eurobitume UK Trophy Winners

2016 Winner - Colas, Warrington

Bitumen Discharge System

The entry focused on the introduction of a ground-based bitumen pump (GBP) system. GBP systems properly installed confer a range of significant health, safety and environmental benefits, the latter being of particular relevance to urban asphalt plants. 

There was a key innovative aspect in the introduction of a simple hand-operated winch & ratchet system to hoist one end of the flexi-hose so that any residual bitumen drains freely under gravity into a spillage box. The ‘plant-end’ of the flexi-hose is permanently connected, thus automatically eliminating 50% of the hazard relating to coupling & uncoupling.  It was clear from the site demonstration that, quite apart from the significantly reduced hazard of contact with hot bitumen, there are obvious manual handling benefits.  The site flexi-hose is inspected at regular intervals for physical integrity and temperature suitability.  The driver/trainer simulated a bitumen delivery, demonstrating the system to good effect.  It was confirmed that the system was very much liked by both supplier and customer, and is transferable to all other asphalt plants and, potentially, other plants handling powders.

Runner-up - Tarmac

“5+2” Segregation of People and Plant

Tarmac implemented a People and Plant Segregation working group which has led to the development of the “5+2” initiative, whereby an exclusion zone of 5m in front and behind the machine is complemented by a 2m exclusion zone either side.

Work is ongoing to develop further the “5+2” initiative through possible future fitting to mobile plant of lasers to project a “5m + 2m” grid box around the machine to indicate dynamically the moving exclusion zone.

RBA Trophy Winners

2015 Winner - Aggregate Industries, Darwen Express Asphalt

Hot Aggregate Recycling Process

Ever since asphalt plants started to mix to a wide variety of specifications, intermittent clean-outs have been a perennial problem.  On a typical ‘grocery trade’ plant, clean-outs can be necessary up to 10 or even more occasions every working day.  Each clean-out is extremely dusty, even if dropped into the raised bucket of a front-end loader (FEL).  If dropped into a dump-truck, the result is even worse.  Either method requires vehicle movements, often within confined premises.

The recycling process is commenced from the control cabin and is aided by CCTV coverage.  It begins with a barrier being lowered and electrically interlocked to prevent vehicular access under the plant.  Sequential rams are then operated to lower two large plates that slightly overlap when deployed, forming one continuous chute angled at around 45 degrees.  On opening the mixer door, there is minimal fall of the hot dry material which slides down the chute in a controlled manner into a small hopper (circa 2 tonnes capacity) adjacent to the hot elevator.  Either immediately, or at the first logistical opportunity, the reject materials are feed into the base of the hot elevator and thus returned via the screens into the hot bins.  This avoids dumping the hot dry stone back into storage bays where the embodied heat is lost and, more often than not, where the aggregates become wet again, thus requiring yet more fuel/energy to re-handle, re-dry and re-heat the materials.

This Darwen innovation is, therefore, a very significant contributor to reduction in fugitive dust and RCS, as well as minimising energy losses. 

The site has calculated that, annually, 2,200 tonnes of hot aggregates are recycled in this way, saving on both drying/heating costs and FEL running hours, which when combined have delivered savings approaching 30,000 litres of fuel per year.

 Joint Runner-up - Aggregate Industries, Derby Express Asphalt

Third Rail Skip Safety System

It is commonplace for asphalt plants to feature integrated hot storage facilities and the vast majority of these involve the use of an inclined skip system to transfer hot asphalt from the mixer up to a series of hot storage silos. At A.I.’s Derby plant there was an incident with potential life-threatening consequences when their 4 tonne skip became dislodged from its track system. To prevent any future recurrence, the site team devised and fitted a 3rd rail system comprising additional steelwork up the centre of the inclined trackway, plus additional ‘goal post’ hoops (in the vertical plane) at multiple points up the trackway to stiffen the structure further, to preclude the possibility of a repetition of this incident in the future.

 Joint Runner-up - Breedon Aggregates England, Leinthall Quarry

Bucket Elevator Tool

All asphalt plant bucket elevators require periodic maintenance and repair.  This work was labour-intensive and potentially hazardous as personal injuries could result from manual handling issues, finger pinching, burns, etc.  The site-inspired solution was to devise and manufacture a robust tool to simplify and considerably ease – and therefore speed up – the procedure.  The simple but ingenious link-joining jig can achieve, safely, in 45 minutes (with 2 fitters) the changing of 4 links which, previously, would have taken 4 fitters four times as long.

 2014 Winner - Lafarge Tarmac, Syston Contracting

Traffic Safety Wand

Formerly, Banksmen/spotters used small unidirectional LED torches to indicate to the drivers of asphalt tippers to reverse onto a paving machine.  The inherent disadvantage of the torch was/is that the Banksman has only his PPE to protect him from behind as he walks backwards towards the paver whilst beckoning the reversing tipper.  On a congested site this renders him particularly vulnerable to being hit by one of a plethora of other moving vehicles.

By contrast, the illuminated ‘wand’ – which can show steady red or green, or flashing red or green – has a 300mm x 25mm high intensity illuminated cylinder that, vitally, can be seen from 360° around, so the banksman’s visibility is hugely improved.


 Runner-up – Aggregate Industries, Darwen Express Asphalt

Fire Fan

A small but ultra-keen team at A.I.’s Darwen Express Asphalt plant had reviewed the risks associated with the recovery of a worker potentially incapacitated on the upper levels of the asphalt plant that is enclosed in a building.  The team had taken into account that incoming firefighters would be unlikely to be familiar with the multi-level configuration of the plant.  In the case of a fire, visibility could be severely restricted due to smoke and the temperature could well exceed 40°C.

The Plant Manager, who has firefighter experience, had suggested that in such circumstances, smoke needed to be dispersed quickly and the temperature reduced rapidly.  The challenge was met by the Plant Engineer working closely with the Plant Manager.  The two designed and installed a large externally-mounted fan, the “Fire Fan”, which has been coupled to a water-dispensing system.


2013 Winner - Hillhouse Quarry Group

Dryer drum Roller Path Maintenance

Improving upon previous winning designs, Hillhouse Quarry devised apparatus for polishing/re-instating the dryer drum roller path ring on their asphalt plant with no risk to personnel.  Consisting of a table and rods holding a plate on which are mounted fine grinding blocks covering the full width of the path, the blocks are lightly tensioned against the roller ring, all within isolock guarding.  Operationally, the system requires no supervision and can be used at any time without interrupting production.


Runner-up - Aggregate Industries, Express Asphalt, Darlaston

Hot Storage Skip Safety System

An in-depth corporate risk assessment of asphalt producing facilities at Darlaston focused on the proximity of significant tankage of bitumen close to the lower end of the inclined skip track to the hot storage bins.  The possibility of unforeseen skip system failure and resulting catastrophic damage required an engineering solution that would absorb a high energy impact.  A ‘safer-by-design’ working group decided that limited space availability favoured the installation of a skip ‘crumple zone’, together with additional externally designed strengthening.  The opportunity was also taken to install a number of extra electronic detection and control systems.


2012 Winner - Midland Quarry Products

Automated External Path Surface Grinder - Asphalt Plant Dryer

Removing, more safely, the vibration-creating flat spots on the asphalt plant dryer drum ring at Griff Quarry required the combined ingenuity of a working group comprising quarry team members and contractors.  Their award-winning idea was to develop a remote grinding ring attachment, operated externally to the guarding around the rotating drum. The group devised a bolt-on frame fitted with a 110 Volt 9” angle grinder, capable of being adjusted to make multiple passes to remove all the flat spots, in enhanced safety.  The kit is transferable to all asphalt plants with only minor adjustments.
Runner-up - Tarmac National Contracting, Birtley

Hi Visibility Safety Zones

Recognising the potential night-time vulnerability of site technicians when working away from well-lit paver areas, Tarmac decided that the technician’s own lighting was not sufficiently visible.  The solution lay in the provision of LED flares attached magnetically to test equipment and additionally placed on the road surface as a diversion for approaching site traffic.  Use of LED flares creates a safe working zone for technicians and is now considered best practice throughout Tarmac National Contracting.


2011 Winner - Aggregate Industries - Halton East Works

Bitumen weigh kettle safe working capacity cut-off

During working hours, bitumen is continually circulating from an in-tank submersible pump and is diverted into the weigh kettle by a valve when required.  The weigh cells safety interlocks are located under the kettle, but the cells can fail or become clogged with debris.  Equally, if the valve ram fails, the kettle fills and the overweigh triggers a signal to turn off the valve which is ineffectual as the valve, in this instance, is inoperable.  An independent system that can sense an overfill and shutdown the bitumen pumps has been devised.  This comprises the installation of a standard limit switch above the kettle, wired to the bitumen pump controls in the control panel.  A bracket is fitted to the limit switch from which is suspended a length of chain and a copper float ball (similar to that found in a domestic water tank).  The ball is suspended above the maximum level the bitumen should reach in the kettle and the chain and ball have been selected so that their combined weight holds the switch open.  If the bitumen level rises beyond its design maximum, the ball begins to float and the switch closes thus switching off the pumps requiring the system to be reset in the control room. A very simple but effective approach that also facilitates easy daily manual testing.

Runner-up - John Wainwright - Moons Hill Quarry

New Access Hatches

A hot bin access issue on a newish Benninghoven plant.  As installed, the plant provided only high level access into each of the bins individually.  If work was being undertaken at a lower level in the bins i.e. an enclosed, noisy, dusty and probably hot location, the question was how could anyone be recovered if injured or rendered unconscious. This has been solved by installing a sizeable bin access door towards ground level and then providing access to all other bins by interconnecting doors - with suitable precautions to reduce abrasion issues.  Like the access issue on mobile plant addressed within 'Safer by Design' this should be addressed during the design process.


2010 Winner – Aggregate Industries, Bardon Asphalt (Midlands)

Bitumen Discharge Permit

Aggregate Industries set a target of zero incidents involving bitumen handling. To help achieve this, a bitumen working group involving personnel from the asphalt business, HSEQ, engineering, training and personnel was formed. The group identified that there inconsistent calculation of bitumen storage capacity, an unacceptable number of alarm activations and incidents leading to employee injuries.

A Bitumen Discharge Permit (BDP) was formulated in consultation with the RBA. By running through the permit check list and entering the tank gauge readings, the site operative is carrying out a risk reduction exercise that will improve the safety of bitumen deliveries and prevent environmental pollution from spillages.

The BDP has been implemented at all Aggregate Industries asphalt plants in the UK and is being adopted by the MPA as “Best Practice” for the asphalt industry.

2010 Runner - up - Tarmac Limited, Caldon Low Asphalt

Safe working platform

An excellent initiative allowing much improved safer access to the mixer by means of a wheeled platform running on tracks used to service hot bins.  This replaces a lengthy process involving scaffolding and manual handling.  It is straightforward and well designed and implemented.

2010 Highly commended and winner of the Sir Frank Davies Trophy for companies with fewer than 1000 employees

A-one+ Integrated Highway Services, Wakefield

Overhead Electric Lines Crossing the Highway Network

Overhead power lines present a hazard to road workers and the emergency services when they cross the highway. This comprehensive package of measures is designed to counteract the risks associated with overhead power lines and includes permanent markers on both sides of the carriageway.  This is particularly important when ‘unplanned’ incidents occur such as traffic accidents, load shedding etc in poor weather and low visibility.


2009 Winner - MQP Wednesbury Asphalt Plant.

Wednesbury is a new "state of the art" asphalt plant. There is a very good driver induction and traffic management system. Bitumen discharge is by ground base pump. This system has input from the bitumen delivery driver but is totally controlled and monitored by a sire operative from the site weighbridge. This allows the discharge operation to be monitored from start to finish. The RBA recommended traffic light system is in operation.

2009 Runner -up - Hanson Aggregates, Leeds, West Yorkshire

The RBA Trophy is for entries demonstrating best practice related to safe performance in bitumen delivery.

2008 Winner - Hanson Aggregates, Bradford Asphalt Plant West Yorkshire.

Bradford had carried out a significant amount of work with regards to HSE on their plant. Housekeeping was of a very high standard. A one way traffic management system, endorsed with signs, has been adopted. This covers all vehicle movements with ease considering such a small site, especially reversing for bitumen delivery. With regards to bitumen delivery the site has an excellent driver induction process and RBA approved "traffic light" system for high and ultimate high tank level control. There is also a space saving three in line storage tank connection with spray hood.

2008 Runner -up - Hanson Aggregates, Northampton Coating Plant

2007 Winner - Aggregate Industries UK Ltd.

Topley Pike was relocating its asphalt plant and bitumen storage facility when redesigning the site layout. It was decided by AI management to install a ground base pump system with the relocated storage tanks. This improved safety by removing the pressurised discharge from the delivery tanker, and at the same time improving the environment with the decrease in bitumen fumes to atmosphere. The new site layout also incorporated a new improved traffic management system for vehicle and plant movements. Regarding the bitumen discharge, plant operators unlock the security system and clarify the correct connection before starting the pump system for discharge. The driver presses the pump stop button once delivery is completed. Plant operators replace the security system.

2007 Runner-up - Aggregate Industries UK Ltd (Halton East Works)

2006 Winner – Arum Resources Ltd (Carnsew Quarry).

Comprehensive procedures had the delivery process under their control. The procedure ensured that prior to the start of delivery the plant staff became involved. The safety shroud around the delivery point is permanently locked down. To commence delivery this has to be unlocked by the plant staff who allow the delivery driver to connect the delivery hose and they then re-lock the shroud back in position. Only then is the driver allowed to start delivery. After delivery the plant staff must return to the delivery area, unlock the shroud to allow the driver to remove the hose. The operation is monitored throughout by CCTV, all of this being a documented procedure. This system ensures that the delivery is fully controlled by the customer and stops the practice of just giving the padlock key to the driver.

2006 Runner-up – Lafarge Aggregates Ltd (Elstow Coating Plant)

2005 Winner – Hulands Aphalt Plant (Co Durham).

Adherence to the RBA Code of Practice was impressive with almost all requirements fully complied with. The idea to alarm the emergency shower goes beyond the Code of Practice and could be considered as best practice in future. The alarm not only sounded in the area but was also repeated in two other areas where a first-aider is stationed. This ensured that not only was the site management made aware of the problem, but also the casualty received treatment in the shortest possible time.

2005 Runners-up – Foster Yeoman (Crawley Depot)
Ennstone Thistle (Daviot Asphalt Plant, Inverness)

2004 – No trophy was awarded as entries did not adequately address the subject brief provided.

2003 Winner – Bardon Aggegates (Back Lane Quarry).

An excellent bitumen facility, achieved by involvement of their own staff plus supplier staff during the site redevelopment. Considering the human element, training is always the start of best practice. At this site there was an almost infectious approach to training, which showed in staff behaviour throughout the site.

2003 Runner-up – Aggregate Industries (Colemans Quarry)
Tarmac Central Ltd (Caldon-Low Quarry)

2002 Winner – Midland Quarry Products (Cliff Hill Quarry).

As well as meeting all the requirement of the RBA Code of Practice and having excellent procedures in place they had gone a step further. Having moved their deliveries predominantly to night deliveries, which reduced vehicle movements during the day, they had taken the initiative to employ an extra member of staff, creating the position of Bitumen Supervisor. This allowed them to provisionally order bitumen during the day and retain the ability, when the Bitumen Supervisor came on duty, to reduce/increase the bitumen load size with safety.

2002 Runners-up – Johnston Roadstone (Leaton Quarry)
RMC Aggregates Easter (Grimsby Coated Stone)