Health & Safety Watch: 2 Dead in Workplace Slab Accident

Two employees were left dead from a tragic slab accident at Stone Warehouse in Sterling Heights, Mich. Firefighters were called to the scene Monday around 2:30 p.m. after reports that a worker was pinned under several slabs of granite.

“When we got on the scene, we could obviously see that the worker was pinned in there, and it was obvious that it immediately killed him and it wasn’t anything of a rescue mode,” Said Chris Martin, Fire Chief of Sterling Heights.

Soon afterward, employees of Stone Warehouse noticed that another man was missing, and first responders discovered that there were two fatalities.

Crews reportedly had to move hundreds of broken pieces of granite to recover the bodies, and this was no small feat. Several other granite shops on the same road rushed in to help.

“19 Mile Road in this area of Sterling Heights has a lot of granite shops,” Martin said. “We reached out to a lot of the different shops, and three businesses just dropped everything they were doing, came across the street with their pieces of equipment and started lugging pieces of granite out so we could move it safely.”

Martin noted to WWJ Newsradio that the extra help was indispensable in the process of recovering the bodies of the two victims.

“These guys do it every day. We had a couple pieces that were cracked and shifted, so we used the technical rescue team to put some airbags in place, put some shoring in place so nothing else shifted,” Martin said. “And we were able to get to the first victim about an hour ago and then we had to move a lot more granite and stuff that was hooked to their crane and we’re almost to the second victim.”

The first victim was finally reached around 7:00 p.m., and it took another two hours to recover the second man.

We here at express our deepest sympathies to the family and coworkers of the deceased, and we cannot stress enough that countertop fabrication is a potentially deadly business.

Even the falling of one slab of granite or similar surface, can injure or kill. Please follow all protocols all the time to help prevent such tragedies, as no countertop is worth a human life. If you do not know what those protocols should be, or if you are unsure whether your measures are safe, we urge you to contact your local OSHA consultation office.

Remember, the Consultation Department is separate from the Compliance Department, and they are forbidden from sharing any infractions they notice during a consultation. You have nothing to lose in contacting them. It could save lives, protect your workers and keep workers’ compensation claims to a minimum.