In Boston a worker who was on the job for only two weeks was killed when asked to brace himself up against some slabs while his co-workers removed another slab.
In Tallahassee, Fla., a 7-year-old boy was killed when several A-frames fell on him while his parents were looking for granite for their new home.
In Livingston, N.J., a truck driver was severely injured when asked to help hold some slabs while they were being unloaded.
In Calgary, Alberta,Canada, a 53-year-old man received pelvic and arm injuries when a granite slab fell on him.
In New Jersey a 48-year-old man was crushed to death by a falling 700-lb. slab of granite.
In Mercer Island, Wash., a 22-year-old man was killed when several slabs fell off a forklift and hit him in the head.
These are just a few incidents involving improper handling of stone that have been reported. As more and more stone fabrication shops open up, the rate of accidents are also on the increase. OSHA has recently released some guidelines for handling and storing these heavy slabs. (Guidelines can be downloaded at www.surfacefabrication.com.) Trade organizations, such as the Marble Institute of America, have also begun to address these issues, but unfortunately this information is not popularly known amongst the thousands of fabrication shops throughout out the United States and Canada.
The following are some guidelines I recommend to avoid these injuries and deaths in and around the stone shop.
Proper handling of stone slabs starts long before you receive any slabs. There are numerous tasks that need to be completed before you can consider unloading, storing and accepting slabs in your yard or shop.
In order to unload and move slabs around your shop and yard, you will need a forklift that is capable of lifting and moving these heavy pieces of stone. A single stone slab can weight up to 1,000 lbs. I would recommend that you rent or purchase a forklift that will lift a minimum of 5 tons. Why such a big forklift? The slab only weighs ˝ ton. Forklifts are rated at how much they can lift while the forks are on the ground. This means as the slab is lifted, the capacity that the forklift can lift decreases. If you’re going to lift a slab up and over another slab, off a truck or onto a table, you will need a forklift that can handle this weight.