By Jami Jones
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a Safety and Health Information Bulletin alerting employers and employees to hazards associated with transporting and the handling of granite and marble slabs.
How that bulletin came to be pretty much starts with a bad accident March 22, 2004.
Steve Mosbrucker is, by all practical purposes, lucky to be alive after an A-frame failed that day.
Mosbrucker, an OOIDA member, drives for Parfrey Trucking, which is owned by OOIDA Life Member Charlie Parfrey. In March 2004, Mosbrucker was knocked from his flatbed trailer by falling rock. Once on the ground he still wasn't safe.
As the rock fell, it broke apart on the trailer. Huge pieces fell on Mosbrucker, who lay on the ground.
The A-frame that was holding the load of rock in place had been modified because it wasn't tall enough for the load.
"This one particular A-frame was too short for the slabs they were putting on, so they extended it with two-by-fours," Mosbrucker said.
Mosbrucker said the crew from the marble company worked about 30 minutes using tape to secure the wood extensions to the A-frame and proceeded to load it up.
Theoretically, A-frames would have been addressed in the "new" cargo securement rules released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in late 2004. But they weren't.
The rules in general are considered weak by many in the industry. But even more specifically, there aren't regulations on A-frame design, strength, etc., and no mention of hauling flat stone at all.
Parfrey had enough. He knew that A-frames needed a regulated standard and that the entire flat-rock hauling segment of the industry should have been included specifically in cargo securement regulations.
It was time something had to be done.
Parfrey took his concerns to FMCSA to try to get some regulation, some standard for
A-frames. He said that one FMCSA staffer went so far as to tell him that the agency probably would not revisit cargo securement anytime soon.
So with FMCSA doing little to address the issue of inadequate A-frame construction and lack of regulation in this segment of the industry, Parfrey took up the battle with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Eventually, because of the pressure Parfrey placed on the agency with the help of a group of interested individuals from the trucking industry, the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act, the state's equivalent of OSHA, issued a Hazard Alert concerning the dangers of granite and marble transport racks.
That still wasn't enough. It was only one state agency that had acknowledged the problem. Parfrey kept the heat on and with the help of WISHA eventually got some attention at OSHA.
The Safety and Health Information Bulletin was issued by OSHA in early September 2005 - nearly a year and a half after Mosbrucker's accident.
"This has only taken one and a half years," Parfrey said. "What it will do - no one knows. I still think there needs to be standards set for A-frames as far as weight and size of the product hauled.
"At least this is a move in the right direction."
Visit www.osha.gov/dts/shib/shib090805.html to read the bulletin.