While shop safety has always been important, in recent years, it seems that it has become a top priority among fabricators and other industry members. In fact, I just returned from one of the educational seminars that Stone World sponsors with the Marble Institute of America (MIA), and not to my surprise, it was part of the morning discussion. Tony Malisani, former MIA President (2014) and owner of Malisani, Inc. in Great Falls, MT, who gave the presentation, pointed out that slab safety not only has to be considered in the shop, but on the jobsite as well.

"Slab handling in the shop; we are set up for that," he said. "The problem comes in when you go to install it." Malisani said that things to consider when working at a jobsite include the amount of workers in the install crew, the transport tools that might be needed and to make sure there is a clear path for moving the slab from the truck to the home or building.

When it comes to safety, education is a key component. In addition to the educational seminars that the MIA sponsors with Stone World, the association also promotes safety best practices in a number of other ways and it makes these resources available to the industry -- whether a member or non-member of the association. These include Toolbox talks, DVDs, printed brochures, safety sessions held at local MIA chapters and seminars at trade shows.

Because we at Stone World also take safety seriously, we included an article on "Slab handling safety" in this edition of the Stone World Fabricator eNews. We talked to fabricators, as well as a large distributor, to find out what procedures and equipment they have in place to run a safe operation.

"We have designated people that handle the slabs," said Jonathan Mitnick, Chair of the MIA Safety Committee and Vice President of CCS Stone Inc. in Moonachie, NJ. "Those people are specifically trained in handling and staging the material for the cutters, as well as loading trucks and stripping containers. Our cutters are trained to move the slabs in the shop safely. Training comes in the form of regular safety meetings and experienced employees mentoring others."

All the participants we spoke with hold regularly scheduled safety meetings to go over procedures when it comes to handling slabs. They also stressed the importance of checking slab handling equipment on a regular basis. Malisani, who also participated in article, explained his shop workers check equipment on a daily basis. "Broken, cut or torn equipment is replaced right away," he said. "Twice a year we check the tools that are not used every day."

Taking the appropriate measures to ensure safety in the workplace can prevent injuries and save lives. If you don't adhere to safety best practices in your shop, take the time to do so now.