Quarrying

People have been mining the earth for ages.  During the Stone Age, one of man’s greatest innovations was learning to chip away limestone for making cutting tools, hammers, and hand axes.

The Egyptians took stone quarrying to the next level by being the first to saw rock and drill into rock.  The Romans quarried and cut stone with their own innovative stone cutting techniques. One of those innovative techniques is called plugging and feathering.

Examples of makind’s earliest tools


Across the US, there are over 10,000 quarries, which means there are many workers requiring PPE. A quarry is a place, most often recognized as a dip pit, from which stone and rock is excavated from the ground. Today's quarrying industry produces crushed stone, granite, marble, sand, and gravel. Most of these minerals are close to the surface, making surface mining or opening pit mining the primary form of mining.

The type of quarrying ultimately depends on the type of product removed:

  • Dimension Stone Industry

    Granite, marble, limestone, and slate. This type of quarrying involves cutting and shearing blocks of stones into specific dimensions. Powerful equipment for cutting and sawing are needed. These stones help build walls, floors, headstones and monuments.

  • Aggregate Industry

    Sand, stone, and gravel. These materials are utilized in virtually every building material. Explosives and blasting are the primary mining methods used in aggregate mining. Aggregate materials are an absolute must for constructing roads. Society as we know it today would not exist without aggregate - no highways, no airports or no stadiums. Portland cement requires sand, gravel, and limestone.

Quarried rock helped the Romans build
innovative aqueducts for supplying water to Rome.


Stones final end use may be different from Stone Age man's use, the Egyptian's use of rock and stone or the Roman's use of rock and stone. However, rock chipping continues on in our modern world. To highlight this point, the BLS reports the quarrying industry workforce consists of 3% rock splitters.

Since quarries are found in virtually every state, the industry employs the most mining professionals.  Here is a look at some of top employing occupations: 

Mining Occupations

 
  • Chemical Processing Machine Operator 

    Operate equipment to control chemical changes or reactions in the processing of industrial product. There are roughly around 720 of these workers found in Quarries.  You will find these workers detecting equipment leaks and drawing samples of products.  Common Job titles for this position are Multiskill Operator, Production Operator, and Spray Dry Operator.

  • Construction Laborers and Extraction Occupations 

    Perform tasks involving physical labor at construction sites.  Mining examples include earth drillers, blasters and explosives workers, derrick operators, and mining machine operators.  There are roughly around 30,000 of  these workers found in Quarries.  You will find these workers using hand tools, repairing drilling equipment, and transporting materials.  Common Job titles for this position are Coal Miner, Mining Technician, Underground Miner, Helper, Laborer, Post Framer, and Construction Worker.

  • Continuous Mining Machine Operators 

    Operate mining machines that rip coal, metal and nonmetal ores, rock, stone, or sand from the mine face and load it onto conveyors or into shuttle cars.  There are roughly around 4,000- of these workers found in Quarries.  You will find these workers assisting in construction activities, checking the roof stability and cleaning equipment.  Common Job titles for this position are Bore Mine Operator, Miner Operator, and Continuous Miners.

  • Crushing, Grinding, and Polishing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders 

    Operate machines to crush, grind, and polish materials.  There are roughly around 4,100 of these workers found in Quarries.  You will find these workers mixing chemicals, collecting materials and using picks.  Common Job titles for this position are Batch Mixer, Fabricator, and Miller. 

  • Dredge, Excavating, and Loading Machine Operators 

    Operate dredge to remove sand, gravel, or other materials in order to excavate and maintain navigable channels in waterways. There are roughly 8,000 of the workers found in Quarries.  You will find these workers operating equipment, tools and gauges. Common Job titles for this position are Dredge Operator and Dredger.

  • Earth Drillers 

    Operate a variety of drills to facilitate the use of explosives in mining or construction.  There are roughly around 570 of these workers.  You will find these workers mixing chemicals, collecting materials and using picks.  Common Job titles for this position are Blast Hole Driller, Rock Drill Operator, and Underground Drill Operator.

  • Excavating and Loading Machine and Dragline Operators 

    Operate machinery equipped with scoops, shovels, or buckets, to excavate and load loose materials. There are around 7,000 of these workers in Quarries.  You will find these workers breaking rock and operating power shovels.  Common job titles for this occupation are Pit Operator, Loader Operator, and Dragline Oiler.

  • Explosive Workers 

    Place and detonate explosives to demolish structures or to loosen, remove, or displace earth, rock, or other materials. May perform specialized handling, storage, and accounting procedures. Includes seismograph shooters. There are around 1,000 of these working in Mining. You will find these workers placing explosive charges in holes and shoveling drill cuttings. Common Job titles for this position are Blaster, Explosive Technician, and Powderman.

  • Extraction Workers 

    Help craft workers by supplying equipment, cleaning areas, and repair drilling equipment.  Extraction craft workers are earth drillers, blasters and explosives workers, derrick operators, and mining machine operators.  There are around 11,000 of these workers in Quarries.  Common Job titles for this position are Blasting Helper, Miner Helper, and Driller Helper.

  • Furnace, Kiln, Oven, Drier, and Kettle Operators 

    Operate or tend heating equipment other than basic metal, plastic, or food processing equipment. There are around 1,000 of these working in Mining. You will find these workers handling, moving objects and clearing equipment jams. Common Job titles for this position are Dry Kiln Operator, Dryer Feeder, and Overn Operator.

  • Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians and Mechanics 

    Repair overhaul mobile mechanical, hydraulic, and pneumatic equipment.  Examples of this equipment includes cranes, bulldozers, graders, and conveyors.  There are around 3,000 of these workers found in Quarries. You will find these working replacing worn parts and reassembling heaving equipment with tools. Common Job titles for this position are Heavy Equipment Technician, Field Mechanic, and Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanic.

  • Industrial Machinery Mechanics 

    Worker activities include repairing, installing, and adjusting industrial machinery.  There are around 2,000 of this occupation works in Quarries.  You will find these workers cutting and welding metal to repair broken metal parts.  Job titles for this position are Fixer, Industrial and Master Mechanic.

  • Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers 

    Inspect machined, fabricated or assembled parts.  There are around 1,400 of these workers in Quarries.  Common Job titles for this position are Quality Technician, Inspector, and Picker / Pacer.

  • Laborers and Material Movers, Hand 

    Manually move materials to perform general labor.  Around 2,600 of these workers are in the mining industry. You will find this occupation loading docks and loading materials to production areas. Common job titles for this position are laborer and material handler. 

  • Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanic 

    Repair, or overhaul mobile equipment, such as cranes, bulldozers, graders, and conveyors, used in construction, logging, and surface mining.  There are roughly around 3,300 of these workers found in Quarries.  You will find these workers replacing worn parts and reassembling equipment using hand tools. Common Job titles for this position are Heavy Equipment Technician, Field Mechanic, and Equipment Mechanic.

  • Packaging and Filling Machine Operators and Tenders 

    Operate machines preparing products for storage or shipment.  There are around 1,000 of this occupation that works in Quarries.  You will find these workers inspecting products and removing packaged items.   Job titles for this position are Machine Operator, Packaging Operator, and Fabrication Technician.

  • Rock Splitters, Quarry 

    Operate blocks of rough dimension stone from quarry mass using jackhammer and wedges.  There are around 3,300 of this occupation working in Quarries.  This entire occupation is mostly all found in this industry.  You will find these workers removing pieces of stones, cutting slabs, and inserting wedges into holes. Outdoor weather is always a concern for this occupation. Job titles for this position are Rock Splitter, Blaster, and Driller.

  • Separating, Filtering, Clarifying, Precipitating, and Still Machine Operators 

    Operate continuous flow / vat-type equipment; filter presses; shaker screens; centrifuges; scrubbing towers; and batch stills.  There are roughly around 720 of these workers found in Quarries.  You will find these workers pouring unrefined material into machines.  Common Job titles for this position are Machine Tender and Plant Operator.

  • Welding, Soldering and Brazing Machine Operators 

    Operate welding, soldering or brazing machines that weld, braze, or heat treat metal products.  The mining industry employs around 600 of these workers in Quarries. You will find these workers adding material to work pieces, joining metal components, and annealing finished work pieces. Common Job titles for this position are Fabricator, Mig Welder, Spot Welder, Fitter-Welder, and Braze Operators.  

  • Welding Cutters and Fitters 

    Use hand-welding, flame-cutting, hand soldering, and brazing equipment to weld/join metal components, fill holes, indentations, or seams of fabricated metal products.  There are around 610 of these workers employed in Quarries.  You will find these workers welding components in flat, vertical or overhead positions.  Common Job titles for this position are Maintenance Welder, Mig Welder, and Welder/Fabricator.


All quarrymen face numerious workplace hazards, many of which PPE can help prevent. Similar to other mining sub-industries, over 10% of the workforce involves material moving workers. Without much surprise, handling materials ranks as one of the leading causes of injuries.

Frequent injuries for sand & gravel operators

Frequent injuries for stone mine operators


"Life is a quarry, out of which we are to mold and chisel and complete a character."
Samuel Butler, England 1613

Protecting a quarry worker’s life, while molding and chiseling, is at the heart of what we do.  We protect people from workplace hazards!

From abrasive materials, visibility concerns, and dust, there are numerous hazards quarrymen face.  We highlight the PPE needed for these products below!  Here is a look at some of the most common quarrying hazards:

Common Quarrying Hazards

Find the right MCR Safety product that protects you against these common hazards.

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