In 2003, the Marble Institute of America (MIA) established its safety program. It later went on to start a Safety Committee in 2010, which initially had 16 member companies. Today, the safety committee has grown to include 23 member companies, and is led by Jonathan Mitnick, vice president of CCS Stone, Inc., and managing partner of Marble Devices, U.S. Mitnick accepted the chairmanship during the committee’s semi-annual meeting, which was held at Coverings in April of 2014. Mitnick takes over for Jim Nikolopoulos, director of operations at Walker Zanger, who will remain active on the committee following a two-year stint as chairman. Ted Skaff, vice president of marketing for Lackmond Products, Inc., will serve as vice-chair.

MIA’s Safety Committee comprises some of the most talented safety and operations managers in the stone industry. A charter member of the committee, Mitnick finds his new role both challenging and disconcerting. “I’ve seen and heard of too many fatalities or near-misses that, when examined, could have been avoided had better operating procedures been in place,” he said. “I feel this committee is helping to fill the need by developing and publishing best practices for the stone industry.”

Jonathan Mitnick

Jonathan Mitnick, vice president of CCS Stone, Inc., and managing partner of Marble Devices, U.S., recently accepted the chairmanship of the Marble Institute of America’s Safety Committee during its semi-annual meeting, which was held at Coverings in April of 2014.

In recent years, the MIA Safety Committee has identified issues and provided necessary safety solutions for the stone industry. Recent accomplishments include a “Health & Safety in the Stone Business” manual revised for Ontario, Canada (also available in French Canadian), a new Slab Clamp Safety video and monthly toolbox talks/safety meeting agendas.

Mitnick said that when Jim Hieb, MIA Executive Vice President and CEO, first approached him about joining the newly formed Safety Committee, he thought it was a great idea. “Jim said they were looking for new volunteers and encouraged me to get involved,” he explained. “There’s a lot to be said about sharing information. I was nominated for co-chair after two years into it, often teaming up with Jim Nikolopolous to be a vocal member of the committee.

“Some of the biggest names in the business sit shoulder to shoulder,” Mitnick went on to say. “It’s a forum where members put aside their differences and work together to better our industry.”

According to Mitnick, the Safety Committee started to develop an importance level to issues that they wanted to address. “In 2014, the goal is to create a Safety and Health Manual for those who don’t have one,” he said. “Everything with the MIA is about education. You have to teach it. The OSHA Safety Handbook was a big project for us, which we just completed.”

A personal mission of Mitnick’s is to develop best practices for material deliverers. “I feel strongly about this,” he said. “Third-party drivers do not have the experience to handle natural and engineered stone slabs. It is so important that truck drivers be taught how to handle them. I get guys who don’t know how to strap a slab down or they can’t tell if the truck is level. One of our members recently brought up the point that technically, it is a liability for the wholesaler to advise an outside freight company how to secure slabs onto their truck. We have to overcome that.”

Among new business for the year is to reorganize the Safety Committee and to form sub-committees to work on different initiatives and continue to create and promote new Job Hazard Analysis documents. “We respond to the needs of the industry and adjust,” explained Mitnick. “The best part of the committee is that you have MIA as a structure. They really want to promote education and get the word out.”

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