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Natural Stone Institute Announces ISO TC 327 Updates

Posted on 03 March 2021 by cradmin

Natural Stone Institute technical director Chuck Muehlbauer has been appointed chair of the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 327 on Natural stones. As chair, he is responsible for the overall management of the committee, helping to manage standards projects effectively and leading the committee in reaching consensus. He will serve in this capacity through 2025.

TC 327 currently has 13 global participating members (Belgium, Brazil, Columbia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States), with another 10 national standards bodies observing. Participation in the committee is expected to grow as its work advances. TC 327 held its first virtual meeting on January 14, 2021, and the committee will continue to work virtually throughout 2021, with plans to bring global members to Las Vegas for an in-person event as part of TISE 2022.

The progress of the committee will be accelerated by assembling existing standards from around the globe, including the Natural Stone Institute’s Dimension Stone Design Manual (DSDM), and using them to create one unified standard. Additionally, a U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) has been formed to develop and transmit, via the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), U.S.-consensus positions and comments on activities and ballots of the ISO TC. The U.S. TAG held its first virtual meeting on December 9, 2020, and is chaired by Scott Scallorn of Intertek’s York, Penn. location.

Michael Picco, 2021 Natural Stone Institute board president, commented, “As the current president of the association, I am extremely proud that we will be taking a leading role in the new ISO initiative. We are ensuring that we will be at the forefront of the creation of this global standard.”

Jim Hieb, Natural Stone Institute CEO, agreed, “Through our work with ISO TC 327, we will be able to develop uniform standards for natural stone with members in ISO in over 150 countries. We are moving our industry forward in new and exciting ways and ensuring a global connection for our association for years to come.”

You may also be interested in this article: ATI Decorative Laminates Names VP of Business Development

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ISFA & AWI Partner to Codify Solid Surface Fabrication Standards

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ISFA & AWI Partner to Codify Solid Surface Fabrication Standards

Posted on 02 December 2019 by cradmin

ISFA has announced it will be working with the Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) to generate the upcoming AWI/ISFA 0661 – Cast Polymer Fabrications Standard. The AWI Standards Development Team will be working alongside members of ISFA to develop these universal standards. ISFA is the only trade association with published standards for solid surface fabrication and AWI is a widely-accepted global leader in architectural woodwork standards.

AWI is enlisting the help of Subject Expert Review Teams (SERT) to ensure the standards will best meet the architectural woodwork community’s needs. Members of ISFA will be also giving direct input on the AWI 1236 – Countertops Standard with regards to the implementation of solid surface. Furthermore, ISFA will be assisting AWI with the development of requirements for solid surface within standards for applications other than countertops.

The SERTs will be responsible for vetting the standards’ content to ensure accuracy and consistency within the documents, as they relate to each team’s area of expertise.

You may also be interested in this article about the updated Sustainability Standard from the Natural Stone Council.

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OSHA Requests Information on Table 1 of the Silica Standard for Construction

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OSHA Requests Information on Table 1 of the Silica Standard for Construction

Posted on 14 August 2019 by cradmin

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is requesting information and comment on Table 1 of the agency’s Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction. OSHA seeks information on additional engineering and work practice control methods to effectively limit exposure to silica for the equipment and tasks currently listed on Table 1. The agency is also requesting information about other construction equipment and tasks that generate silica that it should consider adding to Table 1, along with information about their associated engineering and work practice control methods.

In addition, OSHA is seeking comments about whether to revise paragraph (a)(3) of the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry to broaden the circumstances under which general industry and maritime employers would be permitted to comply with Table 1 of the silica standard for construction.

Information submitted will allow OSHA to consider new developments and enhanced control methods for equipment that generates exposures to silica, and provide additional data on exposures to silica from equipment and tasks using a variety of control methods under different workplace conditions. Expanding Table 1 to include additional engineering and work practice control methods, equipment, and tasks could provide employers with more flexibility and reduce regulatory burdens while maintaining protections for employees.

If information submitted in response to this request indicates that revisions to the silica standards are needed, the agency will then publish the proposed revisions in the Federal Register for public comment.

Comments must be submitted by October 14, 2019. Comments and materials may be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, or by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice for submission details.  

You may also be interested in this article about the OSHA Checklist.

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Michels Red Granite Quarries Achieve ANSI/NSC 373 Certification

Posted on 01 March 2018 by cradmin

michelsFollowing its commitment to sustainable business practices, Michels Corporation achieved certification of two red granite quarries in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Red Granite Quarry and Wausau Red Granite Quarry have both achieved certification to the ANSI/NSC 373 Sustainable Production of Natural Dimension Stone Standard.

Requirements for the Chain of Custody portion of the NSC 373 standard have also been completed by Michels. This allows the material to be tracked from point of harvest, through fabrication and travel and to the project site.

Michels became the first company in Wisconsin and fifth in the world to successfully complete the Natural Stone Council’s process and received NSC 373 certification for two of its limestone quarries in 2017 Michels continues to explore certification at additional sites that align with the standard.

NSC 373 certification is a voluntary accreditation based on performance and metrics for improvement in the following categories: water, transportation and chain of custody, site management, land reclamation, corporate governance, energy, management of excess process material and solid waste, safer chemical and materials management, human health and safety, and innovation.

“Sustainability is important to Michels, our customers and the design community,” said M.O. Bohrer, Michels Vice President of Corporate Business Development and former chairman of the Natural Stone Council. “We are tremendously proud to be the first company to have both red granite and limestone quarries that meet these rigorous standards.”

You may also be interested in this article about LEED and LBC recognizing sustainable stone certification.

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TCNA ANSI_Gauged_Porcelain_coverR2

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TCNA Offers Print ANSI Standards For A Limited Time

Posted on 17 October 2017 by cradmin

The Tile Council of North America is printing a limited run of the American National Standard Specifications for Gauged Porcelain Tile and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs (ANSI A137.3 and A108.19).

American National Standard Specification A137.3 describes the minimum physical properties and grading procedures for gauged porcelain tiles and gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs. It provides criteria for buyers, specifiers, installers, manufacturers and the public in general. ”Gauged” means manufactured to a thickness that is specific and largely associated with installation and use. Tile panels/slabs are those that are one square meter in facial area or larger.

American National Standard A108.19 provides procedures and requirements for interior installation of gauged porcelain tiles and gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs. These products require unique installation and workmanship considerations.

TCNA will only be printing copies for those who pre-order books and does not expect to print more copies for at least one year. So be sure to order enough copies to fulfill your needs through the end of 2018. Orders are expected to ship by the end of the year. The pre-order period ends on October 30.

You may also be interested in this article about MSI’s Tektile Porcelain Tile Collection.

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NSF, Natural Stone Council Develop Stone Sustainability Standard

Posted on 06 December 2013 by cradmin

NSF International and the Natural Stone Council (NSC) have developed NSC 373 Sustainability Assessment for Natural Dimension Stone, touted as the first sustainability assessment standard for stone. It lays out criteria for sustainable development aspects of stone production while defining environmental requirements for stone quarrying and production.

NSC utilized NSF International’s technical expertise as an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited standards developer to help create the consensus-based standard. When finalized as an ANSI standard it is expected to assist in acceptance of NSC 373 by trade and sustainability stakeholders.  NSF helped NSC through the consensus process by gathering and managing a joint committee comprised of key stakeholders to define and agree on criteria for the standard. The committee included stone industry trade associations, quarry and processing companies, NGOs, architects, and government, environmental advocacy, academia, green building and design groups.

Certification to NSC 373 by quarries and processors is the first step in the product certification process for natural stone. Full certification for stone products will be achieved through a combination of NSC 373 certification for quarries and processors along with chain of custody (NSC COC) compliance for the rest of the distribution chain.  The NSC COC program is currently in development and near completion.

“As products with sustainability claims continue to enter the marketplace, independent, third-party certification of products to consensus-based standards can help architects and specifiers make educated decisions about product selection,” said Duke Pointer, executive director of the Natural Stone Council. “NSC 373 provides a needed standard of excellence in sustainability for the natural stone industry and will serve as the first step of the developing NSC Chain of Custody program.”

“NSF International helped NSC establish a stone standard which includes well-defined environmental, ecological, social responsibility and human health metrics through a multi-stakeholder, science-based approach,” said Tom Bruursema, general manager of NSF International’s Sustainability Division. “The criteria in this standard will help quarry operators and stone fabricators assess their internal practices, drive efficiencies and attain preferred status in their markets as the building industry continues to value sustainable products and practices.”

The NSC 373 standard is leading the transition to verified, more sustainably extracted and processed natural stone. This allows the natural stone industry to compete on a level playing field with other industries that already have sustainability standards and enables quarries and primary processing plants to demonstrate commitment to applying more sustainable approaches to development and corporate operations.

NSF International provides certification to the new NSC standard through the NSF Sustainability Division. NSF Sustainability will evaluate natural stone quarrying and fabrication operations in several key impact categories, including water, transportation, site management, land reclamation and adaptive reuse, and management of excess process materials and waste.

Certification to NSC 373 is based on point totals to achieve Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum level certification. Monitoring and periodic re-evaluation is required to maintain certification.

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The Hazards of Silica Exposure in the Countertop Fabrication Industry

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The Hazards of Silica Exposure in the Countertop Fabrication Industry

Posted on 04 September 2013 by cradmin

With the recent proposed silica standard update from OSHA, new light is being shined on an old problem – silica exposure. It is important that anyone working with natural stone, concrete or quartz surfacing/engineered stone understands the risks of silica exposure and silicosis.

This video, put out by the U.S. Department of Labor, www.dol.gov, addresses just how dangerous silica exposure can be.

While most countertop fabrication companies in the United States understand the risks and take the necessary precautions to limit exposure, such as wet cutting, every fabrication company should be.

While this video is not exclusively for those in the stone countertop segment of the industry, anyone who is should probably view it. This is a matter that we hope you all take seriously.

If you have other videos you think would be of benefit to the industry, please drop us a line at [email protected] and let us know.

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OSHA Announces Proposed Decrease in Allowable Silica Exposure for Countertop Fabricators

Posted on 03 September 2013 by cradmin

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a proposed rule it says is “aimed at curbing lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers.” The proposal seeks to lower worker exposure to crystalline silica, which kills hundreds of workers and sickens thousands more each year. After publication of the proposal, the public will have 90 days to submit written comments, followed by public hearings.

Exposure to airborne silica dust occurs in operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling and crushing of concrete, brick, block and stone products and in operations using sand products, such as in glass manufacturing, foundries and sand blasting. The current permissible exposure limit (PEL) for countertop fabrication facilities is 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air in an 8-hour (one shift) time-weighted average. PELs for other industries range from 100 to 250 micrograms. Under the new proposal, all industries will have their PEL dropped to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air for an 8-hour time-weighted average. That is a 50 percent decrease in the PEL for those fabricating granite, quartz and other silica containing stones for countertop usage.

The proposed rule also includes provisions for measuring how much silica workers are exposed to, limiting workers’ access to areas where silica exposures are high, using effective methods for reducing exposures, providing medical exams to workers with high silica exposures and training for workers about silica-related hazards and how to limit exposure. These provisions are similar to industry consensus standards that many responsible employers have been using for years, and the technology to better protect workers is already widely available.

“Exposure to silica can be deadly, and limiting that exposure is essential,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Every year, exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. This proposal is expected to prevent thousands of deaths from silicosis-an incurable and progressive disease-as well as lung cancer, other respiratory diseases and kidney disease. We’re looking forward to public comment on the proposal.”

Once the full effects of the rule are realized, OSHA estimates that the proposed rule would result in saving nearly 700 lives per year and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis annually.

The proposal is based on extensive review of scientific and technical evidence, consideration of current industry consensus standards and outreach by OSHA to stakeholders, including public stakeholder meetings, conferences and meetings with employer and employee organizations.

“The proposed rule uses common sense measures that will protect workers’ lives and lungs-like keeping the material wet so dust doesn’t become airborne,” added Michaels. “It is designed to give employers flexibility in selecting ways to meet the standard.”

The agency currently enforces 40-year-old PELs for crystalline silica in general industry, construction and shipyards that are inconsistent between industries, which OSHA says are “outdated and do not adequately protect worker health.” The release issued August 23 regarding the new proposal states that “the proposed rule brings protections into the 21st century.”

The proposed rule includes the new exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica and details widely used methods for controlling worker exposure, conducting medical surveillance, training workers about silica-related hazards and recordkeeping measures.

OSHA rulemaking relies on input from the public and the agency will conduct extensive engagement to garner feedback from the public through both written and oral comments. OSHA will accept public comments on the proposed rule for 90 days following publication in the Federal Register, followed by public hearings. Once public hearings conclude, members of the public who filed a notice of intention to appear can then submit additional post-hearing comments. Additional information on the proposed rule, including a video; procedures for submitting comments and the public hearings can be found at www.osha.gov/silica. OSHA’s official Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, can be found www.osha.gov/silica/nprm.pdf. This more than 750-page document includes instructions on how to submit public comment as well as estimated costs that affected companies would incur.

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ISFA Seeks Public Comment on Quartz, Solid Surface Standards

Posted on 24 July 2013 by cradmin

The International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) is seeking public comment on new quartz surfacing classification and standards developed in cooperation with industry representatives. It is also seeking public comment on updates to its established solid surface classification and standards which were also created in cooperation with various industry representatives.

The solid surface standards (ISFA-2-01 Classification and Standards for Solid Surfacing Material), which can be downloaded here, were originally created by the association in 1998 and updated in 2001, 2002 and 2007, and are now in the process of being updated again.

The quartz surfacing standards (ISFA-3-01 Classification and Standards for Quartz Surfacing Material), which can be downloaded here, are new and are designed to parallel the solid surface standards.

The purpose of these documents is  to clarify and simplify the choice and specification of  materials by providing a common yardstick to measure performance and properties. Both sets of standards cover applications, performance properties and values and testing methods.

The draft versions of these two standards are now available for public comment and input. ISFA is soliciting comments on these draft standards from any interested parties.  The period for public comment will be open until close of business on October 15, 2013. Those who wish to make suggestions or offer comments should email [email protected] with their feedback or contact the ISFA office in writing.

Following the public comment phase, the documents will undergo an additional stage of review, based on the input from interested parties. According to a release by the association, it is expected that both standards will be presented to the ISFA Board of Directors for their approval this fall.

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