Stone Column: A stone shop safety reminder
I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the issue of shop safety after recently hearing about another tragic accident where falling slabs took the lives of two shop workers. It was just another day for these workers until the unimaginable happened. And from talking with many shop owners through the years, I know it’s their worst nightmare come true.
Unfortunately, even under the most careful of circumstances, there is always a chance of mishap when moving 1,000-pound stone slabs around, but there are definitely ways to minimize the risk. For starters, safety procedures can never be discussed too much with your employees. Frequent safety meetings should be scheduled to review best practices in the workplace – especially when handling slabs. Educating your staff on proper protocol and providing visual documentation that they can refer back to are guaranteed ways of ensuring a safer work environment.
Having the proper material handling equipment is also a critical component to shop safety. And even more importantly, regular inspections to make sure all of the equipment is functioning properly should be a top priority.
Overall, enforcing good housekeeping standards also goes a long way in creating a safer work area. Keep the work space free from slipping/tripping hazards and wipe up spills and wet surfaces. There can never be enough measures taken to instill best safety practices.
When developing content for safety meetings and/or documents to give to employees, there are numerous publications and videos on slab handling available from the Natural Stone Institute. Additionally, information can also be found in locally sponsored training seminars, sessions taught at industry events and through free voluntary OSHA onsite consultations.
Nobody wants to think that a tragic accident or a fatality can happen in their shop, but unfortunately, we are still hearing about these horrific incidents. Most of us live in a fast-paced world where we can’t get to the next thing on our to-do list quick enough. But when especially working with extremely heavy material, it is imperative that moving the product safely, rather than quickly, is the primary objective. Adhering to safety policies will save lives.