Handling Hazardous Stone Slabs Safely
Working with stone slabs includes professions consisting of a variety of specific tasks. one thing that most (if not all) of them have in common is stone slab handling. This happens in various ways. Stone slabs are unloaded, loaded, transported, stored, and disposed of on a regular basis. During the times when stone slabs are being handled, what are some of the safety issues to be aware of? And what should fabricators and other professionals know about slab handling safety? In this article we will examine some information that relates to those topics.
Handling Stone Slabs Is Hazardous
It could be easy to overlook. After all, some of the technology, equipment, and machinery used to work with stone slabs makes many many tasks simple. Yet, stone slabs are extremely heavy and require
care, caution, and consistency (we like to call this C3) if they are to be handled safely. Hazards exist at every turn when stone slabs are being handled. Note what the U.S. Department of Labor said in a SHIB about these hazards dated 08-12-2008:
OSHA's Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) data from 1984-2006 confirms that 46 fatalities nationwide were associated with the handling and storage of stone slabs. Unsafe handling and transportation of stone slabs have resulted in many other serious injuries as well.
That statement highlights the need for
caution anytime stone slabs are handled. Care should be taken to increase awareness of hazards when working with slabs of stone. This includes loading, unloading, and transporting slabs. It must be a consistent practice in order to benefit from the knowledge of the hazards associated with handling stone slabs unsafely.
What Stone Slab Hazards Exist?
Like we mentioned before, there are hazards around every corner when it come to working with stone. So, what are some of these slab handling hazards? Furthermore, during what parts of the process are they found? Well, we are going to cover some of the specific one mentioned in the document referenced above. Along the way, we will mention some ways to make the process safer. Of course, it will require effort on the part of the people involved.
When Unloading from Containers
Unloading stone slabs from containers is one area that can be hazardous if the proper procedures are not followed. For example, often times slabs are shipped with support structures fashioned from wood. These support features are designed to secure the slabs for travel. After all, several hundreds or even thousands of pounds of weight can shift easily during the trip. Having the slabs bundled and secured makes the load more resistant to damage.
However, once the load arrives at its destination the slabs must be taken off the truck. Being aware of the shear weight of a slab and anticipating how these stone slabs shift when the wood supports are removed is imperative if caution is to be exercised. Make sure that workers are aware of
safety recommendations for unloading slabs.
During Stone Slab Storage
Even after the slabs make their way to the destination and are unloaded they still can pose a danger to anyone that works with or around these heavy weight materials. Just getting them to the storage location may seem like the only time storage hazards exist. But that is not the case. In fact, after the slabs are placed in storage fixtures and are at rest, they are heavy enough to cause racks to fail to support the load of a slab if the rack is not engineered and used properly.
Slab storage racks are a major piece of safety equipment in a slab yard, fabrication shop, or warehouse. Inspecting, maintaining, and using these important fixtures properly is highly important to safety. Yes, safely storing stone slabs involves maintained and quality equipment used properly.
Moving Stone Slabs
Of course, moving a slab of stone from one work space to another is not a task that can be safely done by one person. In fact, moving stone slabs around is usually done with machinery to lift the stone. Using a forklift and other equipment as a crane, the lifting system is attached to one of several
types of lifting clamps. Additionally, a "spotter" is usually used to hold onto the slab as the driver moves the vehicle with the rigging from point A to point B. The spotter must use caution and be careful to stay out of the fall shadow of the slab. Otherwise, moving a stone slab can be a safety hazard. Regular reminders of techniques for moving stone slabs safely keeps safety awareness high.
Safely Handling Slabs of Stone
No matter what kind of slab it is, safety practices are important. Implementing techniques and increasing awareness of hazards when loading, unloading, storing, and moving slabs goes a long way toward preventing accidents that result in injury and even death.
Yes safety awareness, good practices, and maintenance all play roles in preventing injury or other tragedies in the workplace. And no matter which part of the process, loading, unloading, storage, or handling and moving slabs, the people involved play a role in the safety realized in a particular work environment.