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Injuries caused by Marble and Stone slabs in Massachusetts

Stone slabs like marble and granite offer attractive and popular options for bathrooms, kitchens, and other countertop surfaces, but shopping for and working around these marble slabs can be dangerous. Employees, contractors, and consumers have been injured and even killed by improper storage of granite and marble countertop slabs.  Shoppers are often invited to browse open marble storage yards and warehouses without adequate supervision, safety barriers, or adequate warnings on the premises.  A slab of marble can weigh between 800 to 1,000 pounds, and they can be extremely dangerous and cause severe injuries if not stored and handled properly.  When shopping for natural stone countertops in Massachussets, consumers and workers must be aware of the risks associated with marble and granite slabs. 

Legal Duty of Care in Massachusetts: Protecting Shoppers and Employees from Stone slab Injuries

Massachusetts business owners and contractors are legally responsible for ensuring their retail stores and storage facilities are safe.  Massachusetts law requires that property owners owe a duty of reasonable care to anyone who is lawfully on their premises. They have a duty to keep the property in reasonably safe condition. Owners must also warn visitors of any dangerous conditions, including hazards they are aware of or should reasonably be aware of. 

It may sound unlikely due to the stones’ immense weight, but they can easily become dislodged or tip over if stored or handled incorrectly. Given the dangers involved, customers should be adequately supervised when browsing, the premises should have adequate warning signs informing visitors of the danger, as well as appropriate safety measures for the storage and handling of these slabs.   

The Massachusetts Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program has implemented suggested standards to prevent fatalities caused by falling stone slabs, but businesses that store and sell granite kitchen countertops must adhere to the regulations and safety guidelines for them to be effective.  In addition to the Massachusetts FACE Program, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) oversees workplace safety, which includes the storage of marble countertops.  These dangerous slabs must be adequately stored and secured in a way that prevents them from falling and injuring employees and customers. 

Preventing Injuries in Stone Countertop Showrooms: Essential Safety Practices

  1. Proper Slab Storage: Slabs must be stored in racks engineered to support their weight, and businesses should follow specific guidelines for slab handling. Overloaded or improperly constructed racks pose a significant risk.
  2. Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Workers should be provided with and use the correct PPE, including gloves, hard-toed shoes, and safety glasses.
  3. Training and Equipment Inspection: Employees must receive proper training in handling equipment like overhead cranes and forklifts. Regular inspection of these tools is crucial to ensure their safety.
  4. Consumer Safety in Showrooms: Business owners must ensure that marble showrooms and storage areas are safe for customers. This includes securing slabs properly and not leaving customers unattended in potentially hazardous areas.
  5. Communication and Emergency Procedures: Employers should have clear communication channels and emergency procedures in place to handle any incidents effectively.
  6. Handling Procedures: Strict protocols for lifting, moving, and storing slabs are essential. Employers should enforce the rule of moving one slab at a time and maintaining a safe distance from the fall zone.

OSHA inspectors have the authority to perform random safety checks and issue citations and fines for any violations they find, which motivates most companies to ensure that they follow proper safety measures. However, there are still businesses that fail to meet the necessary safe storage requirements, leading to severe injuries and death. 

Statute of Limitations

In Massachusetts, individuals who have suffered injuries due to the negligence of a property owner or third party generally have three (3) years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. Failure to file a lawsuit in the appropriate court in a timely way will likely bar any chance of recovery. In the case of a wrongful death claim, generally, under G. L. c. 229, § 2, an appointed representative has three (3) years from the date of death to file a complaint in the appropriate court.

Navigating Legal Options: Seeking Justice for Marble and Stone Slab Injuries in Massachusetts

Accidents and injuries caused by falling or broken stone countertop slabs are preventable when businesses take the necessary precautions. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Massachusetts, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in these types of personal injury cases. Call or reach out to Gavagan Law and we’ll pursue the compensation you rightfully deserve. Call or reach out using our contact form and speak with us for a free consultation.

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