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4th Jul, 2022

Quarry safety action follows key report

Malvern Editorial 22nd Jan, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

WORK to improve the safety of Gullet Quarry following two tragic deaths last year will begin immediately, the Conservators have vowed.

The group, which manages the Ledbury beauty spot, met on Thursday (January 16) and acted swiftly following the publication of RoSPA’s (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) long-awaited safety recommendations.

The report ruled out draining or filling in the quarry as it was too costly and would have a negative environmental impact on the site which is of national geological importance.

Instead RoSPA recommended the quarry be made less accessible and that visitors be made aware of the risks of swimming there.

A 1.1metre fence will now be built along the quarry’s open edges, trees and bushes will be planted to restrict where people camp and a throw line and new warning signs will be installed.

Conservators’ director Stephen Bound said the work should be completed before April.

The group commissioned RoSPA to carry out the investigation following the deaths on Russell O’Neill, 17, and Justas Juzenas, 22, in July.

They were the seventh and eighth fatalities at the popular recreational spot in the last 40 years.

There were also five reported rescues in the last 20 years.

Investigators declared it was a ‘relevant factor’ that the temperature of the water in deeper areas fell to 15 degrees Celsius and below, which is considered the threshold for cold water shock to occur.

Other key findings were that the water was only 1.5metres deep in one frequent jump spot meaning impact injuries were likely and fences, which blocked entry to the most popular diving point 15 metres above the water, were vandalised to gain access.

The report also declared it would be difficult to spot anyone who had slipped under the surface because of the limited visibility and anyone struggling would find it hard to escape unassisted because of the quarry’s steep edges.

The Conservators’ bylaws prohibit swimming but wardens have no power of arrest.

RoSPA deemed it would be difficult to enforce these rules with up to 200 people attending the quarry on warm days. It called on the police to provide greater support during hot weather.

The report stated significant numbers of people did not comprehend or chose to ignore the existing ‘no swimming’ warning signs.

It also said the recommendations would ensure the quarry’s natural beauty was retained and visitors would be made fully aware of the risks of gaining access so they could make a balanced and informed decision about their actions.

Mr Bound said implementing the RoSPA’s recommendations were now a priority and said the site would be continually reviewed and monitored.

“The most important message remains that anyone swimming at the Gullet Quarry is acting in breach of our bylaws and is putting themselves at risk.

“We urge people not to endanger themselves by entering the water.”

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