In this issue, you will see that we address the subject of shop safety, which I think everyone agrees is an important topic. In a matter of seconds, one wrong move or misjudgment can lead to an accident, or even more tragic to think about – a fatality. We have two articles that suggest various ways to take precaution and educate both your employees and customers on proper procedures when working or walking around in a stone shop.

The feature “Place a value on training,” which begins on page 44, emphasizes the importance of proper training, and even cross-training, for employees. Among the recommended tips are providing specific documentation for workers so that they are aware of procedures and better prepared to act efficiently. Regular meetings where safety is discussed is another surefire way to instill best practices.

Starting on page 40 is a feature entitled “The Safe Zone,” written by our friend Jon Mitnick of CCS Stone, Inc. In the article, he stresses the dangers of handling slabs, especially when the handler is inexperienced. “Following proper protocol can save lives,” he states. “Don’t wait for an accident to occur or a visit from OSHA before becoming responsible for the safety in your workplace.” This statement is so true. It is best to be proactive, rather than reactive after an accident or near-miss tragedy occurs.

Knowledge is power. Jon, who sits on the Natural Stone Institute’s safety committee and has served as its chairman from 2014 to 2016, explains that in addition to the numerous publications and videos on slab handling available from the Natural Stone Institute, information can also be found in locally sponsored training seminars, sessions taught at industry events and through free voluntary OSHA onsite consultations.

“The most important message in slab safety is to avoid the “Fall Shadow,” according to Jon. “This is the danger zone along the broad side of the slab where most slab injuries and deaths occur. The point is that slab safety training is available and following a regimen with employees will save lives.”

The importance of safety can’t be stressed enough. We cover it once a year in Stone World, but it is something that should be practiced every minute of every day for those working in a stone shop. Being diligent can in fact save lives.