Loading, unloading, moving, and handling granite slabs is a dangerous task. The United States Department of Labor is constantly reminding individuals and companies of the hazards of granite and ways to reduce them. Employees are crushed by, caught by, and struck by slabs of granite during these processes. The Department of Labor issues the Safety and Health Information Bulletin to bring about awareness. The main content focuses on these main goals:
- Alerting both employees and employers of the risks of transport, storage, loading, and unloading operations
- Giving tips and advice on lessening the potential for injury
- Encouraging employers to create and implement granite handling procedures
- Encouraging employers to provide training throughout the year to keep awareness and procedures current
- Holding employees accountable for their safety and the safety of others
Hazards of Granite | History of Major Injuries
One of the things that makes handling granite so dangerous is the weight. Granite slabs can weigh from several hundred pounds to several thousand pounds. OSHA’s Integrated Management Information System compiled data from 1984-2006 which confirmed that 46 fatalities occurred while employees were handling or storing granite slabs.
The investigations revealed that most these were a result of poorly outlines procedures and faulty implementation.
The fatality count obviously does not account for the hundreds of non-fatal injuries that occur.
Hazards of Granite | Wood Supports
Before the granite slab even arrives at it’s destination, you have to worry about the transportation.Some granite delivery companies install wood supports inside containers to prevent these types of accidents, but many do not. Without these supports the granite slabs can shift, slide, and/or completely collapse.
Hazards of Granite | Unloading and Storage of Granite Slabs
There are many different ways that granite distributors store granite once it is on the ground. These all generally consist of some type of racking system.
A-Frame Racks: One such racking systems is and A-frame structure design. This type of rack allows for two slabs to rest back to back in an A-frame position.
When injuries and fatalities occurred, they were due to design flaws in the A-frame. These flaws did not allow one slab to be supported alone when on slab was removed causing it to topple over.
The US Department of Labor recommends that these A-frame racks and any other type of rack be connected to warehouse floors with hardware to prevent them from falling over or shifting during any movement.
Slab Racks: This is another popular storage solution for granite slabs. It is comprised of two horizontal bases and poles. The poles are inserted into the bases creating dividers between slabs that keep them standing. To remove slabs from this type of storage set up, special material handling equipment is required.
Slab Racks fail quite often but are still commonly used. Because of the ease in storing multiple granite slabs in a small area, employees have the tendency to overload them causing the poles to become dislodged resulting in a falling domino effect.
Also, because in most cases the poles are inserted into the bases but not permanently welded, they can easily become loose and shift the slabs. Even the slightest bit of movement can be deadly if someone is in between the slabs.
Hazards of Granite | Handling and Moving Granite Slabs
There are specialized cranes and trucks that have equipment that properly stabilizes and supports granite slabs during movement.
Without the use of proper equipment, the weight of a granite slab cannot be controlled once it begins to fall or sway.
There needs to always be more than one or two people involved in moving granite slabs to have eyes on the entire slab and for guiding support when the slab is suspended.
If you work with granite slabs take the time to learn, understand, and implement safety procedures to keep safety a priority! The United States Department of Labor and Osha have many valuable resources that employers can provide to their employees or that they can research on their own.