The transport of granite and marble rock slabs can place workers at risk when loading, transporting and unloading the slabs. The slabs may trap, fall and strike workers causing injuries and even fatalities.
These slabs often weigh hundreds to thousands of pounds, and are usually transported via flatbed truck in loads between 20,000 and 40,000 pounds. During shipment, slabs are typically strapped vertically to a metal or wood A-frame structure affixed to the bed of the truck. Workers place the slabs onto these frames at their distribution point and the driver takes them to their end point, where they are unloaded by employees, often assisted by the driver.
Hazards in the transport process are due to a variety of factors. Slabs may move on their frames or the frames may bend or break under their weight. When one slab shifts or is taken off from the frame it may create dangerous shifting among the other slabs. Tie-downs or restraining devices may be used to anchor slabs, and removal of these devices can cause shifting of the entire load. Damaged or improperly applied restraining devices can also put workers at risk.
The dangers associated with moving these heavy slabs can be greatly minimized by observing the following precautions:
Transport frames should be securely fastened to the truck and designed to bear the slabs’ weight and the forces of movement. The design of the frames should also ensure that the remainder of the load is secure if one slab moves or is removed. For instance, each slab may be stored within an individual compartment.
Observe proper maintenance and inspection of shipping frames.
Tie-downs or restraining devices should be correctly applied to secure slabs.
Inspect each tie-down or restraining device prior to each use and before removal from the slab. Damaged or ineffective tie-downs or restraining devices should be immediately withdrawn from use.
Observe safety when loading and unloading the slabs. Employees must be trained in proper procedures and when to recognize potential danger such as shifted slabs or damaged frames or restraining devices.
Drivers play an important role in maintaining safety. They should be trained to recognize damage to the frames that can occur during transport.
OSHA provisions must be observed when employees are using equipment such as forklifts to move and carry slabs.
For their safety, customers and visitors should not be present during the loading and unloading process.
Content brought to you by North American Stone.