Tag Archive | "Safety"


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Natural Stone Institute Debuts Silica & Slab Safety Certificate Program

Posted on 28 April 2020 by cradmin3

The Natural Stone Institute has announced the debut of a new safety resource for stone fabricators and distributors. The Silica & Slab Safety Certificate is an 8-hour online certificate that provides training material for silicosis prevention, slab handing and creating a safety program.

This program, comprised of 20 courses, is a combination of webinars, course readings, and related videos and documents. The program must be completed by one designated  safety manager. After earning the certificate, the safety manager can then administer courses to employees. Participants are encouraged to share this program with their insurance carriers to discuss potential discounts on premiums.

Natural Stone Institute Accreditation & Technical Manager Mark Meriaux commented: “Earning the Silica & Slab Safety Certificate is a way to show customers and vendors that you take safety education seriously. It shows that you value safety both within your company and to all that you have contact with outside your organization.”

The Silica & Slab Safety Certificate is free to current Natural Stone Institute members. There will be a $599 administrative fee for non-member participants.

You may also be interested in this article: Caesarstone Introduces Master of Stone Program

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Caesarstone Master of Stone

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Caesarstone Introduces Master of Stone Program

Posted on 02 April 2020 by cradmin

Caesarstone, manufacturer of quartz surfaces, has taken the lead on safety standards for the industry with the launch of MASTER OF STONE. The extensive program was created for fabricators and their employees and it focuses on issues of health and safety in the workplace with a special emphasis on creating a space free of the dangers of potentially hazardous Respirable Crystalline Silica dust, the root cause of Silicosis. Caesarstone is investing in its customers’ businesses with the MASTER OF STONE program, which will be free and available for use by anyone in the industry.

“We often hear feedback from fabricators around the world that safety guidelines can be complicated and confusing and that they lack knowledge about this issue,” said Elizabeth Margles VP of Marketing Caesarstone North America. “So we took on the challenge of making safety knowledge easily and clearly accessible to managers and employees in our industry by developing, among other means, a unique online Training Center especially for MASTER OF STONE. When dealing with the dust risk and its implications, we at Caesarstone are determined to become part of the solution by being proactive and leading the revolution to create a safer work environment for all.”

The MASTER OF STONE program formally launched on February 3, when the website and E-learning modules were released to all Caesarstone fabricators. The program will be available in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Hebrew.

While Caesarstone has always had a robust training and communications program for its fabricator partners, MASTER OF STONE is the result of many years of research and development to create a new concept and communication language to help fabricators and their employees to learn about Health & Safety and Professional know-how in the most efficient way across various platforms with added value content for fabrication plant managers. The fabricators website is an accessible platform for safety and professional content, which enables the presentation of complex material as user-friendly content. It will have a responsive design for mobile and tablets.

All the information will be available via the Caesarstone MASTER OF STONE Training Center website (https://mos.caesarstone.com), where information, guidelines, methods and collateral will be provided to all who enroll. The registration process for the Training Center is simple—each fabricator will be issued a unique factory code for both registration and login. The system automatically sends an email each time a team member registers or successfully completes one of the modules. The website also features a safety guidelines video for fabricators detailing ways to prevent the creation of hazardous dust and how to protect themselves from it. As well as “Silica Dust Health Hazards & Protection” video designed to support fabricators’ efforts to keep their businesses completely safe, created according to OSHA 2018 regulations.

You may also be interested in this article: OSHA Revises National Emphasis Program to Reduce or Eliminate Worker Exposure to Silica

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Webinar: Analysis of Family First Coronavirus Response Act

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Webinar: Analysis of Family First Coronavirus Response Act

Posted on 26 March 2020 by cradmin

This recorded webinar shared March 24, 2020, by Allied Construction Industries helps businesses understand and navigate the emergency rules set forth by HR 2601 – the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.” It focuses on how these emergency guidelines may affect your business and employees.

Keep in mind this does not cover any potential information of the federal COVID-19 stimulus package going through Congress.

Download the full webinar here.

For the latest government information on COVID-19, visit Coronavirus.gov for the latest official information from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force.

You may also be interested in this article: U.S. Department of Labor Provides COVID-19 Resources

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OSHA Releases Alert and Guidance on COVID-19

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OSHA Releases Alert and Guidance on COVID-19

Posted on 25 March 2020 by CRadmin2

By now, we are all aware of the threat of the COVID-19 virus and what it means to quarantine, and OSHA has been working diligently to give employers as much information as possible to curb the spread of infections. Many states are now under “shelter in place” orders and have shut down many types of workplaces. Even though business has most likely fallen sharply since the outbreak, many types of businesses are still allowed to operate, including those that fall under the blanket industry of construction.

If your countertop fabrication business is still operating, it is important to follow the new OSHA guidelines to help reduce the rate of transmission. This is not only good for society as a whole but also for your specific workplace. Even one case of coronavirus infection among your employees is reason enough to shut down operations for the time being.

COVID-19 spreads primarily to others through water droplets originating from the nose or mouth during a sneeze or cough. However, you do not have to be in direct contact with the droplets to get infected. The virus can survive for several days on hard surfaces, and it is enough to touch one of these surfaces and then touch your eyes, mouth or nose for the virus to transfer.

According to OSHA, the spread of coronavirus can be mitigated in the workplace by following a few specific guidelines. All employers still operating should follow all of these practices:

  • Assess the hazards of viral exposure.
  • Evaluate the likelihood of exposure.
  • Implement controls to lessen the risk of exposure, including the use of physical barriers, PPE, social distancing, personal hygiene and frequent cleaning.

In addition to the above, OSHA recommends following general practices to help control exposure to the coronavirus:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content when soap and water are not available.
  • Do not touch your eyes, mouth or nose without first thoroughly washing your hands.
  • Maintain a distance of 6 feet from other co-workers, vendors and customers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control believes that by implementing a routine that includes all of the above tips, we can beat this virus and get it under control, but it remains to be seen how soon we will be able to go back to “normal.” COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in several ways, and some of the precautions we must take now may have to continue for the greater part of the year.

Whether or not you believe this pandemic is as bad as they say it is, OSHA is on duty and working overtime to ensure businesses that remain open are in compliance of all safety and health measures introduced by federal, state and local governments. Our contact inside Oregon OSHA has revealed that they are receiving up to 10 complaints every hour about unsafe work practices, and the administration is taking all of these complaints seriously.

Due to the situation and volume, some complaints may be handled over the phone with stern warnings, but for the most part, OSHA is operating as usual while taking heightened precautions. The health and safety teams at OSHA are gearing up for a swath of onsite visits to ensure employers are not endangering their workers. If you have not implemented full health-protection measures, their next visit could be you. All it takes is one complaint by phone or completed Web form to get a surprise inspection.

For more information on how you can protect yourselves and your workforce while remaining open for business, please see the OSHA publication Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and visit the OSHA Webpage on COVID-19.

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Australia Silicosis

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Silicosis Scare Hits Australia, Calls for Bans

Posted on 10 February 2020 by cradmin

As of December 2019, confirmed cases of silicosis among countertop and construction workers rose to 260 across Australia, where countertops are known as benchtops, and some estimates have the cases at 350. The Daily Mail reports that Caesarstone was denied insurance coverage because of the silica content of its products, and some victims and lawmakers are calling for a ban of all quartz surfacing.

Because the cases have more than tripled over the last quarter of 2019 in Queensland, ABC News reports, silica dust is now more toxic than asbestos in Australia. According to Dr. Graeme Edwards, silica dust is five to six times more toxic than asbestos.

“Now that we’ve got bigger numbers, that figure is around 20 to 25 percent. So, between one in four and one in five people who’ve had extended exposure,” stated Edwards, speaking on the toxicity level. “It’s crudely of the order of five to six times more potent a problem.” Asbestos sits at 6 percent toxicity in Australia.

Even though Edwards believes silica is highly toxic, he does not support a total ban of materials including it because there is still insufficient evidence and, unlike asbestos, there are safe ways to handle silica. Laws are already in place to protect workers in Australia, but the problem is with enforcement.

“It is the failings of various parts of the system to apply the law that already exists,” said Edwards. “Every single case of silicosis is prima facie evidence of system failure. There was legislation already in existence to manage it but, clearly, it failed the workers of Australia.”

Braden Barnes, 34, is just one of those who has been newly diagnosed with silicosis in Australia, and he is outspoken in his support to ban products containing silica. His case of silicosis is so bad that he is no longer able to work after being in the business for more than a decade. In 2014, his illness was misdiagnosed, so he continued to work in the countertop fabrication industry.

“I kept going for a couple of years because we were starting to build a house, we just had a newborn,” said Barnes. “I know six of my friends that are being diagnosed. I know a few more that are in denial. They’ve built their life around the money they earn, so they don’t even want to get checked.”

One Australian law firm, Slater and Gordon, tells the Daily Mail that they have since a sharp spike in reports from countertop and construction workers that have now been diagnosed with silicosis.

“Under Australian law, manufacturers of products owe duties to consumers and end-users of these products to ensure that they are safe and that any risks they present are accompanied by appropriate warnings,” reads the company website.

Because of this sharp increase, the attorneys launched an investigation into the countertop fabrication industry last May. Shortly afterward, the filed a class-action lawsuit against major countertop fabricators.

“The point of the class action is to bring the manufacturers of the engineered stone to account for the very considerable injuries that the product is causing people,” stated Margaret Kent of Slater and Gordon.

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Safe + Sound Week Kicks Off on August 12

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Safe + Sound Week Kicks Off on August 12

Posted on 30 July 2019 by cradmin

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will join businesses and organizations nationwide to recognize the importance and successes of workplace safety and health programs during Safe + Sound Week, August 12-18, 2019.

The week-long event encourages employers to implement workplace safety initiatives, and highlight workers’ contributions to improving safety. Businesses that incorporate safety and health programs can help prevent injuries and illnesses, reduce workers’ compensation costs, and improve productivity.

“Leadership commitment matters and demonstrates workplace safety is a priority,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “Safe + Sound Week reminds employers that safety and health programs help businesses save money, eliminate injuries, and most importantly save lives.”

Organizations of any size or in any industry looking for an opportunity to show their commitment to safety to workers, customers, the public, or supply chain partners should participate. Learn more about how to help plan and promote safety and health plans.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

You may also be interested in other articles in our Health & Safety Watch series.

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Video: Safety for Customers Viewing Slabs

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Video: Safety for Customers Viewing Slabs

Posted on 19 June 2019 by cradmin

Safety is always at the forefront in the industry and providing for the safety of your customers is no exception. Here we have a great video from the Natural Stone Institute that may be shown to customers visiting your facility. The video explains some of the safety issues they may encounter and procedures to follow while shopping and viewing slabs.

You may also be interested in this video on protecting workers from silica exposure.

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New OSHA Checklist Available

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New OSHA Checklist Available

Posted on 10 June 2019 by cradmin

The Natural Stone Institute has released a new safety checklist designed to help fabricators prepare for an OSHA inspection. Titled “Be Prepared for an OSHA Inspection,” this document contains a summary of the most frequently cited standards following inspections of fabricator worksites by OSHA. Standards are organized into four broad categories:

  • Postings (signage, policies, etc.)
  • General Workplace
  • Recordkeeping
  • Safety and Health Training

The goal of this document is to offer fabricators advance notice on what OSHA is likely to ask about and look for when they inspect a stone fabrication shop. It acts as a companion piece to a longer OSHA Inspection Planning Checklist that provides an overview of policies and items that need to be prepared in advance of an OSHA inspection. Both free downloadable documents can be found at www.naturalstoneinstitute.org/safety.

You may also be interested in seeing more articles from our Health & Safety Series.

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NIOSH Hosts Free Silica Safety Webinar

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NIOSH Hosts Free Silica Safety Webinar

Posted on 01 April 2019 by cradmin

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will be hosting a free silica safety webinar on Tuesday, May 14 at 11am PST. Designed for stone countertop fabrication employers, the webinar will describe the dangers of silica exposure, outline employer requirements to comply with OSHA’s Respirable Crystalline Silica Rule, and offer methods employers can use to protect workers.

During the webinar, representatives from OSHA, NIOSH, and the California Department of Public Health will provide information related to silica exposure, including health risks, methods to protect employees from silica dust, and OSHA requirements. Two Natural Stone Institute Accredited members, Jonathan Mitnick (CCS Stone) and David Scott (Slabworks of Montana) will provide practical tips on controlling worker exposure to silica dust and share the steps they took to ensure their shops were OSHA compliant.

Mark Meriaux, Accreditation and Technical Manager for the Natural Stone Institute commented: “It is important for fabricators to comprehend the health risks involved with silicosis, both personally and for employees, and to understand what can be done to minimize the risks. There is currently at least one documented case of silicosis in California tied to a fabrication shop, so now is the time to get this message out to fabricators. We look forward to working with NIOSH to share this message.”

To register for this free webinar, contact [email protected] or visit www.naturalstoneinstitute.org/NIOSH.

You may also be interested in the Latest OSHA Video on Controlling Silica

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Several Reports of Silicosis in Texas Countertop Shop

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Several Reports of Silicosis in Texas Countertop Shop

Posted on 18 March 2019 by cradmin

In March 2019, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) received a report of an apparent cluster of multiple cases of silicosis among workers associated with occupational silica dust exposures that occurred during the manufacture, finishing and installation of stone countertops. DSHS is currently investigating these cases. There are no reported silica exposures to consumers from countertops in their homes.

Silicosis is an incurable, disabling, and often-fatal lung disease caused by inhalation of very fine particles of crystalline silica dust over a long period of time, which primarily occurs in workplace settings.

Occupational silicosis among workers in the engineered stone countertop industry is a rising concern in the world. The first case associated with engineered stone countertop fabrication in the United States was reported in Texas in 2014. Workers may be repeatedly exposed to dangerous levels of respirable silica dust when grinding, cutting, routing, drilling, or polishing engineered stone, granite and other stone materials containing crystalline silica during the fabrication process.

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour work day, for respirable crystalline silica exposure among workers in fabrication shops and other construction job sites (5,6).

To prevent occupational exposure to silica dust, guidelines require the following:

For employers:

  • Conduct air monitoring to identify the amount of silica dust workers are exposed to, and continue to monitor air levels to make sure the exposure level is below the PEL.
  • When possible, eliminate job tasks that can expose workers to silica dust above the PEL.
  • Reduce exposure by using dust control methods or engineering controls such as wet methods for cutting or grinding, local exhaust ventilation, wet sweeping, or high efficiency particulate (HEPA)-filtered vacuuming.
  • Use administrative controls and safe work practices such as a written exposure control plan and a designated competent person to implement it, and limit access to areas with exposure above the PEL.
  • Provide workers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as respirators and washable clothing when exposure control does not sufficiently reduce the amount of airborne silica dust.
  • Train all employees at the worksite on the health effects of silica exposure, workplace tasks that can expose them to silica dust, and how to control or prevent exposures.
  • Offer medical screenings to all who may be exposed to silica dust as per OSHA standards (5,6). Keep records of workers’ exposure to silica and medical screening results.

For workers:

  • Participate in trainings on silica exposure control and prevention including use of PPE.
  • Follow procedures and protocols to safely work around silica and reduce or prevent exposures.
  • Report any possible silica exposure to the employer, supervisor, or health care provider.

More information about crystalline silica in the countertop industry can be found at OSHA’s website.

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