Without a doubt, some of the most dangerous tasks you can undertake in your workshop is the lifting, handling and moving of large stone slabs. The handling and storage of large sheet stone slabs carry a high risk of injury unless you and your team use the right equipment and does so in a safe manner.

  

Depending on the type of stone, slabs run the risk of fissuring and cracking in unpredictable ways and natural stone can crack and shatter without warning. Six people were killed in the last five years due to being struck by falling stone slabs during handing operations; using the right equipment and following a safe procedure is the key to ensuring you are working safely:

 

Transport and Store Stone On Its Edge, Not Flat

Much like glass, the stone should be transported on its edge in a vertical position. Natural stone is at its strongest in an on-edge, vertical position and slabs are stiffest and safety when they orientated vertically but are most flexible laid flat.

Shorter slabs can be moved for short periods laid flat but ensure you are monitoring the flex in the stone as longer slabs have a greater tendency to flex so sudden movements can cause the weaker parts of the stone to crack. By transporting slabs vertically there are much lower tension forces so the risk of cracking the slab is reduced hugely.

The Stonegate range of stone lifting and handling equipment is specifically designed to move stone safely in the way described above. Our stone lifting equipment including the Hercules Slab Lifting Clamp and Double-Handed Carry Clamps are designed to move stone safely on its side, be comfortable to use and due to their sturdy construction are incredibly hardwearing.

 

Use an A-Frame To Move Stone Safely

Slab transportation should be done with an A-frame wherever possible to support and secure slabs and minimise the risk of injury to operators. The Stonegate Tooling range of Hercules A-Frames are constructed from quality fabricated steel and are the hardest wearing and sturdy A-frames for stone within the UK. Many in the industry settle for cheaper, plywood A-frames which don’t offer the same level of support for the slabs or protection for the operator. These A-frames are not as well-suited to stone fabrication workshops as the damp environment rots the wood, weakening the frame and creating the risk of injury to the operator.

 

Secure Stone Slabs With Strapping and Clamps To Protect From Movement And Shifting

The Stonegate range of A-frames both features high-quality, sturdy strapping to secure stone slabs firmly in place for added peace of mind when transporting. You can also find further stone lifting and handling accessories including Ratchet Straps and Slab Wedges.

 

Safe Stone Slab Storage

Stone slabs should be stored in rack type storage systems, not A-frames, that are designed as to prevent slabs either toppling of slipping out from the base. Stonegate offers their Heavy-Duty Slab Rack, a stone storage system which is constructed from quality steel to ensure stone remains secure.

 

Safe Actions For Lifting And Handing Stone

Anyone in stone fabrication involved in the lifting and handling of stone should review their processes and procedures to ensure that:

-       Whilst a slab is being handled, ensure that no person is within the hazard zone into which a slab may fall

-       Safe systems of work have been drawn up to ensure that slab lifting and handing…

  • … has been planned by a competent person
  • … is adequately supervised
  • … is carried out in a safe manner

-       Slabs should always remain restricted during loading and unloading operations, whether from vehicles or storage, when any person could be in the hazard zone into which a slab might fall from its position

-       Employees are given the appropriate information, instruction and training on the dangers of lifting and handling stone slabs and follow safe working practices including appropriate equipment and relevant PPE

-       Appropriate equipment and PPE is provided, maintained, used, inspected and fit for purpose

-       All lifting and handling equipment is carefully inspected before every use to ensure it is safe and fit for purpose

   

Employees should:

-       Co-operate with their employer in ensuring they follow safe working practices

-       Carefully check each and every piece of lifting and handling equipment to ensure that it is safe and fit for purpose before each use

   

Stonegate, Your Most Trusted Supplier

Stonegate Precision Tooling is the UK’s largest and most- trusted provider of specialist products and knowledge to stone fabricators and supply a huge range of quality diamond tooling, diamond blades, stone CNC tools and workshop & onsite equipment for lifting and handling stone safely.

We work with our customers for the long-term success of their businesses and to ensure they produce the very best products possible with our unbeatable range of in-stock tooling and consumables for stone. To discover the Stonegate difference yourself today, speak with Stonegate!