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NEWSLINE: MIA INITIATIVE TO RAISE JOB SAFETY AND HEALTH AWARENESS . . .

June 1, 2006
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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Marble Institute of America (MIA) in Cleveland have signed an alliance to provide MIA members and others with information and training resources to help them protect employees' health and safety.

The alliance was also signed by the state OSHA consultations services of Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin that offer free job safety and health advice, primarily for small businesses in high-hazard industries. State consultation services are confidential and separate from OSHA's enforcement arm.

“This regional alliance demonstrates our commitment to find cooperative ways to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses,” said Michael Connors, OSHA regional administrator in Chicago. “Enlisting the help of the Marble Institute of America in this effort will further our joint objective of improving safety in natural stone fabricating businesses through enhanced communication about safety issues and development of safety programs.”

“This partnering effort with OSHA is another important step in MIA's aggressive safety initiative,” said Gary Distelhorst, executive vice president of MIA, which has more than 1,500 members around the world. “In the past two years, MIA has produced four safety videos, each of which was distributed to more than 10,000 stone industry companies. In addition, MIA created several safety posters which are being rolled out to industry companies.” Distelhorst said impetus for the alliance with OSHA began when MIA worked with the agency in developing a video promoting the importance of OSHA compliance.

During the two-year alliance, OSHA and MIA will develop information to help MIA member employers and workers recognize and prevent such hazards as exposure to silica and handling slabs of stone. The alliance will also develop safety and health training and educational programs, and will provide expertise to develop workplace safety and health curricula on the prevention of silicosis in the stone industry. OSHA will encourage states that have OSHA State Plans to participate in the alliance.

At conferences and public forums, OSHA and MIA will share best practices and forge innovative solutions to address workplace hazards. Information will be distributed at seminars, meetings or workshops to raise workplace safety and health awareness, and information will be developed on recognition and prevention of workplace hazards for OSHA's and MIA's Web sites.

The alliance will also promote and encourage participation in OSHA's cooperative programs. These include compliance assistance, safety and health consultation programs, the Voluntary Protection Programs and the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program.

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