Archive | November, 2015

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Effective Safety Planning Part 3: Workplace Hazard Assessment

Posted on 25 November 2015 by cradmin

risk_assessment-780x780Over the past few months, we have been exploring how to create an effective safety plan for you and your employees. According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), developing and executing a comprehensive safety plan requires four key steps. Our last Health & Safety Watch focused on the first of these steps, management commitment and employee involvement, and this month, we delve into the second step of OSHA’s four-point workplace program: workplace hazard assessment.

For further information on job safety analysis, this article from Professional Safety, pub shed by the American Society of Safety Engineers, may help you get on track. In addition, OSHA Publication 3071 Job Hazard Analysis is one of the most useful resources on the subject.

Defining Job Hazards

OSHA defines a hazard as anything that has the potential to cause harm. Hazards are most often associated with job activities and conditions that, if left unchecked, may cause an injury, illness or even death. Before hazards can be abated, however, they must first be identified, acknowledged and defined.

The recommended method for discovering and categorizing workplace hazards is to conduct a series of job hazard analyses (JHAs). This standard practice uses job tasks to pinpoint safety hazards and where they could occur. This takes into account all of the factors that are involved in workplace injuries: employees, tasks, tools and conditions. Once hazards have been clearly identified, steps can be taken to eliminate or reduce the risk of injury or illness.

Common Hazards at Fabrication Shops

  • Toxic, flammable and corrosive chemicals
  • Electrical shocks and fires
  • Ergonomic strains and sprains
  • Falls
  • Heat, smoke and fire
  • Machinery and equipment with moving parts
  • Noise
  • Being struck or struck against objects

Steps to a Successful JHA

A successful job hazard analysis includes five general steps:

  1. Get everyone involved. Employee involvement is crucial to a successful JHA because each person has a unique perspective, understanding and way of performing his or her assigned tasks. This will help prevent oversights and give employees a chance to think about their own safety.
  1. Review the company’s accident history. You can discover a great many hazards simply by taking a look at accidents that have occurred in the past. If detailed reports have been kept, you will also learn what the employees were doing at the time and how the accidents happened. If hazard controls had been present, accidents are indicators that
  1. Perform a preliminary job review. Call in each JHA OSHA Advisor 7employee for a safety interview, asking them about the hazards they already know exist. Talk about ways each hazard can be eliminated, and if it can’t be eliminated, how it can be controlled. If any of these hazards pose an immediate threat, employees should not perform any associated tasks until steps have been taken to improve their safety. This is a great way to show how committed you are to workplace safety.
  1. Outline the steps and hazards for every task. Just about every job in a fabrication shop can be broken down into tasks, and each task can be broken down into steps. Rather than relying on each employee to write down the tasks and steps, they should be observed by a third party. There is no need to get overly detailed with long lists of steps, but be meticulous enough to ensure that all of the JHA OSHA AdvisorX 7basic steps are included. The next time the task has to be done, have someone else complete it to see if anything is done differently. You will also want to review the steps with employees so that nothing is accidentally omitted.
  1. List and prioritize all hazards. Make a list of all the hazards you have found in descending order of consequences and likelihood. The hazards that are most likely to occur and have the most severe consequences should be made a priority and eliminated or abated before unlikely hazards with mild consequences.

For a sample JHA form, click on the image to the right.

How to Identify and Analyze Hazards

When identifying and analyzing workplace hazards, you must be able to answer all of the following questions:

  • What is the hazard?
  • Where can it occur?
  • Who could be affected?
  • What are the consequences of the hazard?
  • How could the hazard occur?
  • What could trigger the hazard?
  • What are the factors that contribute to the hazard?
  • What are the chances the hazard will occur?

The answers to these questions should be documented precisely and consistently.

Tips for a Worksite Analysis

  • Perform routine safety inspections.
  • Have a comprehensive survey done by a third-party safety or compliance organization.
  • Create a system for conducting a change analysis when tasks change or new tasks are added.
  • Seek professional safety advice for new equipment and procedures.
  • Let employees know that you want them to report unsafe or dangerous conditions immediately.
  • Conduct a thorough investigation when an accident occurs.

Bonus Tip

If you are unsure whether you are in compliance with all federal and state health and safety laws, contact the OSHA office in your state or the federal OSHA office to schedule a free consultation.

If an OSHA compliance officer visits while you are scheduled for or in the midst of a consultation, he or she is legally bound to wait until you have had a chance to learn about and remedy any potential infractions. However, this does not work in reverse. If you are first visited by an OSHA officer, you cannot schedule a consultation until after the case has been closed.

Next month, we continue our six-part series in Health &Safety Watch with Effective Safety Planning Part 4: Hazard Prevention and Control.

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Chemical Concepts Introduces C-30 Seam Adhesive for Marble and Marble-like Quartz/Stone

Posted on 24 November 2015 by cradmin

chemical concepts c30 marblemaster adhesiveChemical Concepts introduced its C-30 Marblemaster seaming adhesive, designed to form a strong bond and a good color match with a variety of marbles and marble-like quartz, granite and other natural stones. It is suitable for fabricating countertops, bathroom vanities, and other marblesque surfaces, and is usable on mitre joints, laminated edges and seams. Available in a range of colors that are specifically blended to match many popular types of marble looks, including many shades of white that are often difficult to match. Depending on the color, they cure to either an opaque or translucent finish.

You may also be interested in this article on Integra Adhesives Surface Bonder Ultra.

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A Look at a Variety of Interesting Countertop Edge Profiles

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A Look at a Variety of Interesting Countertop Edge Profiles

Posted on 23 November 2015 by cradmin

This video produced by is a good example of how a countertop fabrication company works to stand out. The focus of of the video, edge profiles, is also of interest as it shows the numerous possibilities.

This company tries to differentiate itself by offering a large variety of edge profiles, some it claims are unique to it alone. This also seems to be a great upsell to get more value from each job, while offering more value to each customer.

You may also be interested in this video on exotic granites and other natural stones.

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M S International Inc. Introduces New Video Tool

Posted on 20 November 2015 by cradmin

MSI mobileM S International Inc. introduced a video tool that customers can use to capture the attention of their clients. The video tool includes three videos that highlight the company’s three new porcelain lines: Cappella, Veneto and Versailles. The videos introduce design and industry trends and offer better visualization of product installations and coordination, according to the company. MSI’s customer have the option of embedding the three-minute videos on their own websites or using them internally to learn more about the products. They are also simple to view via YouTube and are optimized for mobile viewing.

You may also be interested in this article about gaining the maximum impact from your website.

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The Joy of Feedback

Posted on 19 November 2015 by cradmin

By Denise Lones

Asking for feedback.

It’s tough. It really is. Deep down, we really don’t want to hear what people truly think about us. It’s a scary prospect. What if they don’t like us? What if we made a huge mistake with them? What if they think we’re incompetent?

Makes you want to run and hide rather than find out, doesn’t it?

It’s time to stop hiding. As business owners, we must face our clients – and ourselves. We should strive to get as much feedback as possible on a regular basis. I can tell you from experience that it’s difficult only at the beginning. But once you get into the habit of doing it, you discover the incredible value of your clients’ insights.

Everybody looks at you a different way. Everybody has a different perspective. Everybody experiences and processes things differently. And because of this, that old saying is true: You can’t please everybody.

You can’t. Nobody can. It’s impossible. People are too dynamic and unique for one entity to fulfill the expectations of so many. Instead, strive to find the best way to serve the majority of your clients as best you can with your own talents. But in order to do this, you must be diligent in asking for feedback.

So what are the best ways to ask for feedback?

First of all, let’s talk about the approach. How you approach someone can make the difference between them telling you what you want to hear or the truth. One of the best ways to do this is to ask for their advice. Ask them to rate the process, not you. What did they think was frustrating about the selection, buying, installation or overall process? What did they think was rewarding? Then, ask them how the process could be improved.

Now, they’re warmed up. You haven’t discussed you at all yet. You’ve kept the subject on the process, and you’ve gotten them into an advice-giving mood. Next, tell them that you’re interested in improving your services. You want to help make the transaction easier and smoother. The time they invest to rate your services will have a positive end result. People do care about this. Now is the time to ask about how you handled their transaction.

You can do this in person, on the phone or by sending a ‘Rate-My-Services’ document. The last method is excellent if you’re at all nervous about asking them directly. Many of my clients have had great success with this method.

And the beauty of such a document is that it encourages the truth because you can offer your clients the option of sending it back anonymously. Here’s an example of a typical Rate-My-Services document that you can send out to your clients:


Dear Client:

I am always striving to improve my service and better understand the needs of my clients. Every client experiences the countertop purchasing process differently based on his or her needs. I would really appreciate your opinion and comments about both my services and the countertop buying/installation process through your eyes. If you could take a brief moment to answer a few questions, it would provide me with invaluable insight.

  1. What part of the process was the most frustrating for you?
  2. What part of the process was the most rewarding for you?
  3. What do you think could have been done for you to make the process easier for you?
  4. What would you recommend I do to improve my services?
  5. If I could add one service to help other clients, what would it be?
  6. What did you like the most about my services?
  7. What did you like the least about my services?

Note that the first three questions are process-focused. We don’t even talk about the company until Question no. 4.

Don’t be afraid of feedback – ever. Whenever somebody gives you a critique, you always remember it. For example, has someone ever critiqued your hairstyle? I bet they have. You always remember that, don’t you? But I’m willing to bet you don’t remember all the compliments people gave you. The negative feedback sticks in your mind.

The people that gave you such negative feedback are often your true friends. When someone can tell you honestly what he or she thinks – even if it’s a negative – then you know you can trust them. It is only by learning what is negative that we can ever hope to be our best selves. Without this knowledge, we’d never know what to change.

When somebody rates your services as a countertop fabricator, it forces you to take a good hard look at the way you do business. Sure, it bites and stings at first. But you’re tough. You can take it.

In my own business, I ask for feedback about everything. And truth be told, I am also unable to please everybody, but in a way, I welcome their unhappiness.

In fact, I’m appreciative when a client takes the time to email me with a negative comment or complaint. When the comment or complaint is constructive and demonstrates what is perceived to be a true deficiency, I thank them. I categorize these people among my greatest allies.

For example, we recently added a lot of new technology to our services. It’s easier now for clients to access information and process orders online. But one client called me and said, “Denise, I hate technology! I don’t want to have to go online to do all this. Why do you have to put your business in a format that I don’t like to use?”

This made me think of ways we could improve this process, and I asked him a magical question: “What would you like?”

My client replied, “I just want to see samples in my own hands with my own eyes and place orders over the phone like I always have. Can you just FedEx me a package, and I’ll give you a call when I decide?”

Ding. Problem solved. Ever since that phone call, I’ve given all my clients the option of going through the longer, hands-on processes.

See the power of feedback? Embrace feedback. Feedback is your friend. Have the guts to ask your clients to rate your services. You will be amazed at the results.

About the Author

Denise Lones, president of the Lones Group Inc., is dedicated to helping people find innovative ways to increase their business and still have a life outside of it. She draws from her professional and personal experiences and believes that the key to business success is all about people, systems and follow-through.

Copyright© 2015, Denise Lones. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at [email protected].

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MR Direct Offers New Series of Stainless Steel Sinks

Posted on 18 November 2015 by cradmin

MR Direct Stainless SinksMR Direct announced the debut of its new series of stainless steel sinks. The new lower-priced sinks offer the option of topmounting or undermounting. The sinks are made in North America and are available in 18 to 24 gauges, with a less expensive 6-in. depths also available as an option. According to the company, the stainless steel sinks are fully insulated, which helps prevent dripping and condensation buildup under the sink. In addition, a coat of barrier formula is sprayed on the bottom for extra protection. Sound dampening pads are also added to the sinks to minimize the “tin” sound when water is running or dripping.

You may also be interested in this video about undermounting a sink to laminate countertop.

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Kirei USA Launches New Website

Posted on 17 November 2015 by cradmin

kirei echopanel-systems-800-600-2

EchoSky racked baffle systems

Kirei USA recently launched its new website. The site features pages for the many different product offerings from Kirei. Separate sections for Kirei Board, Bamboo, Coco tiles and Echopanel Acoustics are highlighted. Each section provides product information, colors and styles available and links to download spec sheets and request samples. The new site also includes a gallery and “Look Book” sections where Kirei products can be viewed in a wide variety of applications.

You may also be interested in this article on tips for developing an engaging website for your countertop fabrication business.

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Arborite & Wilsonart Sponsor the Save a Sample! Program

Posted on 16 November 2015 by cradmin

sample3Arborite and Wilsonart, both manufacturer of laminate and other decorative surfaces, announced their combined sponsorship of the Save a Sample! program. Save a Sample! recycles unused fabrics, finish cards, brochures and samples by delivering them to design schools and students to use in their projects and design work. Arborite and Wilsonart’s combined sponsorship assists Save a Sample! in its mission to continue to help developing designers as well as the environment. Wilsonart has supported the program for more than five years and this is the first year for Arborite, as the program expanded to Canada in 2014. Since the program’s inception, thousands of pounds of materials have been donated by some of the busiest design firms. As a result, design students have a more extensive set of resources to choose from as they cultivate their skills.

You may also be interested in this article about sustainability.

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Antolini Adds to its 2015 Signature Stone Collection

Posted on 13 November 2015 by cradmin

Antolini Fusion Wow

Antolini’s ‘Fusion Wow’ color

Antolini’s 2015 Signature Stone Collection now offers six new natural stone choices with A Zerobact treatment. According to the company, A Zerobact treatment prevents the growth of bacteria and mold on natural stone without altering the color or properties of the stone. The bacteriostatic treatment seeps into the stone and allows for the application of a sealer or other treatments. The six recently released signature stones are Copper Dune, Angel Jasper Brown, Black Cosmic, Fusion WOW (pictured here), Naica Quartz and Quartzite Cielo. These stones are available in a large slab format.

You may also be interested in this article on options available from Granite Transformations.

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Analysts Give Mixed Signals on Remodeling Outlook

Posted on 12 November 2015 by cradmin

Chart courtesy of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

Chart courtesy of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University – Click To Enlarge

According to the firsthand accounts we’ve been hearing at since our last report, the state of the remodeling industry is incredibly positive. Both contractors and related subcontractors, including countertop fabricators and installers, are enjoying a steady increase in business and in profits. However, a few reports show that the boom may be slowing, and business owners may be facing new difficulties going into 2016.

NARI Says Growth Slowing

In early October, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) released its industry analysis, Remodeling Business Pulse (RBP) for the third quarter of 2015. The RBP tracks current remodeling conditions and outlook, and it is professionally organized with data and research by the marketing firm Consumer Specialists.

The report revolves around a final rating that is supposed to be a conglomerate measure of the current conditions for remodelers. The rating is on a scale of one to nine, and a rating of five or higher indicates growth. The RBP rating for the third quarter 2015 was 6.03, which is a sure sign of fair growth. However, this is a decline from the second quarter rating of 6.48.

Breaking the report down into its individual components, declines were measured nearly across the board:

  • Inquiries declined 4.6 percent.
  • Requests for bids declined 4.0 percent.
  • Value of jobs declined by 4.6 percent.
  • Bid conversion remained unchanged.

The analysis provided by NARI states that the leading factor driving growth was postponed projects followed by an improvement in home prices.

“Our businesses are becoming stronger, and that is good, but not as fast as it once was. We are adjusting to slow sustainable growth and are less optimistic, more realistic about what the future will bring,” said David Merrick of the NARI Strategic Planning & Research Committee. “Our customers are being careful about budgeting and taking on bigger projects so leads may be down a little, but the leads we are getting are more focused and on target and budget oriented.”

The future outlook in the RBP showed a picture similar to the analysis of current conditions. The rating for the outlook dropped from 6.07 to 5.79. Fifty-three percent of respondents in the survey stated they see growth in the future while 15 percent they are predicting a decline in business.

Houzz Renovation Barometer Falls

Even though the Houzz Renovation Barometer for quarter three has declined from the previous quarter, the company states that confidence remains high among home renovators. The analysis is broken into six categories: architects, designers, general contractors (GCs) and remodelers, designers-builders, specialty builders-renovators and specialty landscapers.

According to the report, industry optimism by GCs & remodelers fell six points from 78 to 72 even though Houzz predicted only a one-point decline in the last Renovation Barometer. Specialty builders-renovators saw a drop of four points from 77 to 73, but Houzz predicted the category would rise two points to 79.

Even though these drops are quite significant, Houzz focused on the positive aspects of the report. The following stats reflect the year-to-year numbers:

  • New business inquiries increased from 63 to 74
  • Number of new projects increased from 66 to 74
  • Size of new projects increased from 60 to 69

All of these indicators of new business growth fell on a quarter-to-quarter basis, but this may be attributed to the annual winter slowdown.

LIRA Predicts Rise in Remodeling Spending

In October, the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) was published by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. LIRA was developed to estimate national spending on home improvements for the current and three subsequent quarters.

According to the third-quarter report, home-improvement spending will fall from $149.4 billion in the third quarter to $148.3 billion in the fourth and $146.9 billion in the first quarter of 2016. However, by the second quarter of 2016, spending is expected to rise to $154.5 billion, which is an increase of 6.8 percent.

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