Each and every year, the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by improper slab handling is at a point where I am compelled to dedicate an entire column to the subject. Frankly, one death per year is too many, but it has been far more than that, and it appears that this is a subject that continually requires revisiting.
I could go on and on about how safety meetings should be held at distribution
centers and fabrication shops on a weekly basis and how education should be
targeted towards both new and seasoned employees, but I’d rather stress
something more specific being done about this topic.
The Marble Institute of America (MIA) has launched a major new safety
initiative that will examine every facet of slab handling and produce new video
and other training materials for the industry. “This initiative has the highest
priority at MIA,” said Gary Distelhorst, Executive Vice President of the
According to the MIA, deaths have been reported at both fabricator and
distributor facilities in recent months in California,
New York and Ohio. It goes without saying that deaths in
five states over a period of a few months is too much to bear, and the MIA is
hoping to end this deadly trend by assembling a “slab handling safety task
force” composed of safety experts from leading stone distributors. The group
consists of key safety and operational executives from: Architectural Granite &
Marble, Arizona Tile, Daltile, Midwest Tile, Mont Granite, MS International,
OHM International and Walker Zanger. All of these firms are long-established
companies with elaborate slab warehousing facilities, and they have a great
deal to offer the industry at large.
The MIA reported that in its first teleconference, the task force focused on
several important safety issues concerning slab handling. This included the use
of overhead cranes and uniform procedures for slab delivery to local
fabricators, each of which provides a unique delivery situation because of
facilities and terrain.
The task force is expected to meet in the near future to determine specific
topics that will lead to the creation of a new video script and other training
materials. MIA hopes to distribute the new materials by late
Funding for the new initiative will be provided by MIA and several stone
suppliers across the country.
Four years ago, the MIA created a major slab handling safety video and other
training materials, and they have been widely used throughout the industry.
However, following an ugly pattern that has repeated itself over the years,
accidents appear to be on the rise. “Obviously, the subject needs to be
addressed again and expanded in scope and depth,” Distelhorst said. “In the
meantime, we urge all MIA members and others in the industry to make use of
current MIA slab handling safety materials to reinforce the message that
careless slab handling is very dangerous.”
For a complete listing of safety materials available, go online to www.marble-institute.com/safety.
Beyond that, talk with your fellow fabricators and distributors about slab
handling safety. The Coverings expo in Orlando,
FL, this month should provide plenty
of opportunities. If you don’t attend a seminar specific to slab handling, then
bring it up at one of the Fabricator Roundtables. While we all want to learn
how to hone our craft and improve our bottom line, safety is simply too
important a topic to ignore.