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Marble Institute of America Safety Alert - 26 April 2010

Unfortunately, MIA has serious and disturbing news to report involving the deaths of four stone industry employees killed over the past several weeks in slab handling accidents. In Florida and Oklahoma, and in Maryland just last week, the deaths occurred while unloading trucks. In California, the owner of a fabrication business was killed while unloading a container.

As a result of this tragic loss of life and to help prevent further stone-related accidents in the workplace, MIA is re-galvanizing its aggressive stone safety initiative and will be producing timely video and print training programs that specifically address the factors which caused these and other slab handling accidents.

MIA has recently convened a panel of top-level stone distribution safety professionals who will review the information available concerning the recent accidents and make specific recommendations on the content of the new training materials. Once this review is completed, production will immediately begin on the new training materials, which will be made available to distributors and fabricators in the industry upon completion.

MIA has long recognized that any handling of slabs or countertops in the industry poses a potential hazard to those handling the material. That's why we produced a special video on stone handling safety several years ago and distributed it throughout the industry. We know it has been widely used by both members and non-members.

As we all painfully know, even among those who have been well trained in safety procedures, it only takes a split second of carelessness for a tragic accident to occur. Because of the economy, these are stressful times in our industry, especially with associates worrying about job security and other financial concerns. Sometimes stress-related conditions cause folks to take their eye off the ball and accidents occur.

Because of the recent and tragic stone handling fatalities, it would seem that now is a very good time for every company in our industry to give those involved in stone handling a safety "pep talk," which focuses on the hazards involved, as evidenced by the recent deaths.

MIA's original slab handling safety program would be an excellent component in that safety session. Dust it off and show it to every one that handles stone in the warehouse, fabrication shop and in the field. If you can't find a copy of the program, call or e-mail MIA and we will send you a complimentary copy.

Now would also be an excellent time to check your slab handling equipment, including overhead cranes, to make sure that it is function properly. In tough economic conditions, there sometime is a tendency to put off maintenance issues until things get better. But not when human life is at stake.
Safety will always continue to be a top priority for MIA. We will keep you up to date on our efforts to supply you with the newest training materials in the very near future.

Marble Institute of America - Logo

Gary Distelhorst
Executive Vice President



This safety alert has been issued following the recent importation from China of natural stone tiles that were found to contain Tremolite asbestos, which is a prohibited hazardous substance.
Tremolite asbestos (a carcinogenic substance) is a mineral consisting of elongated, needle-like fibres, which can lodge in the lungs and cause asbestos-related diseases including mesothelioma.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 requires that suppliers of substances must ensure that those substances are safe and without risks when properly used.
The importation, sale or use of all forms of asbestos, including Tremolite asbestos, is prohibited under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 and the NSW Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001.

• Importers of natural stone tiles from China should ask for documentation that verifies the content of the tiles and ensure they do not import any tiles known to contain Tremolite asbestos or any other forms of asbestos-bearing rock.
• Importers or retailers who suspect they may have natural stone tiles that contain Tremolite asbestos or other forms of asbestos-bearing rock are to immediately inform WorkCover, and materials are to be tested by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA)-accredited testing facility.
• Where natural stone tiles are identified to contain Tremolite asbestos or any other forms of asbestos-bearing rock, they are to be sealed using appropriate plastic or leak-proof containers and disposed of as asbestos waste at an approved asbestos disposal facility.
• Where natural stone tiles containing Tremolite asbestos or any other forms of asbestos-bearing rock have been installed, the affected area is to be isolated until the material is removed by a licenced asbestos removalist and the area cleared by an occupational hygienist.