Frederick M. Hueston

Stone Forensics

A stone restoration contractor just finished grinding a marble floor and was emptying the slurry he picked up down a sewer drain at the back of a building. As he was dumping this slurry, an OSHA inspector saw him and asked him if he had an MSDS for his slurry. He had no idea he needed one.

A stone fabricator was cutting a slab when an OSHA inspector came in to inspect his shop. The inspector noted that the slurry from the stone was being captured into drums. The fabricator thought he was covered until he was asked for an MSDS – not only for the granite he was cutting, but also for marble and limestone, as well as engineered stone. He was also asked if he had a HAZCOM program and where he kept his MSDS sheets. The fabricator had no idea he was required to have these.

These are just some of the many stories of stone fabricators, restoration companies, as well as installers who are getting fined every day by OSHA. Some of these fines are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The big question is, ARE YOU NEXT?

OSHA requires you to have Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for every chemical and liquid that you purchase, produce or have or have had. This includes not only the sealers, solvents and glues that you use daily, but also the slurry you create when working with stone and engineered stone. In addition to the proper MSDS, you also need to have a written Hazardous Communication Program (HAZCOM) and a written safety program. You must also conduct regularly scheduled safety meetings with the employees.

So how do you compile a safety program and everything that is required by OSHA?  To be honest, it is not an easy task. As I set up safety and HAZCOM programs for contractors, I have spent many hours on the web, attending seminars and receiving OSHA training, and I can tell you the information out there is very confusing and sometimes difficult to comprehend. Let me try to put you on the right path.

The first place to start is OSHA’s website, The OSHA site has lots of valuable information if you have the time to sift through it all. 

You will have to have a written safety program which is accessible to all your employees.

1) You will also need a written HAZCOM program which must include an MSDS for all the chemicals you have used and will use in your shop or on the job site.

2) You will also need to place the OSHA-required safety posters where all employees can see them.

3) You will need to have certain forms filled out in case of an accident, and you will need to post a summary report in the workplace of any accidents.

These are just a few of the things that are required by law. Fortunately, there are several companies that can put this all together for you. The following are some of the companies I have found on the web and my review of them: 
is a service that is geared toward the small contractor and can set up your safety manual, provide self-guided safety meeting presentations and keep all your records and forms, including your MSDS.  I found it very user friendly and easy to set up. Cost is around $40 per month.
is another service that offers safety meetings and record keeping. I found it difficult to get information from them as far as costs, etcetera. I called the sales rep and they didn’t seem to offer a written safety program, or didn’t have any idea what they were talking about. The cost starts around $1,700 per year. 
also offers safety manuals and safety meeting presentations but appears to be very broad and not specific enough for our industry. I signed up for their free trial and was bombarded by emails on a daily basis trying to get me to sign up. Cost was nearly impossible to determine, but I was able to find out that it starts at $995.00 per year but is not inclusive. In other words,  there are hidden costs, as additional services cost more. A Google search turned up many companies that offered these services, but none of them seemed to cater to the stone or tile contractor with the exception of .

I have made it my personal mission to make sure every countertop contractor is aware of the requirements by OSHA. It’s not “IF” OSHA will come knocking, it’s a matter of “WHEN.”

Dr. Frederick M. Hueston, PhD, has written over 33 books on stone and tile installations, fabrication and restoration and also serves as an expert for many legal cases across the world.