The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a new outreach and enforcement effort aimed at preventing and reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities among workers in New England's cut stone products industries.
The new regional emphasis program will focus on workplaces that cut, shape, finish, handle or distribute granite, marble and other natural or engineered stone or stone products. The industry, primarily made up of smaller employers, has grown rapidly in the past few years, prompted by an increased demand for countertops and other stone products. At the same time, fatality and injury rates among its workers have increased. In
Hazards to which industry workers can be exposed are crushing by improperly stored or handled stone slabs; silicosis and other lung diseases from exposure to airborne concentrations of silica caused by grinding and cutting; amputation hazards from unguarded machinery; musculoskeletal injuries from using pneumatic tools; and hearing loss from noise overexposures.
"The need for direct intervention is clear," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's
Over the next two months, OSHA offices in
Those employers who take no action will be placed on a primary list for random, unannounced OSHA enforcement inspections. Those who use the safety consultation service and take steps to correct any hazards found will be put on a secondary inspection list. OSHA will still conduct inspections in response to complaints, referrals and accidents.