StoneTalk Episode 35 – Jim Hieb

In StoneTalk Episode 35, Patrick speaks with Jim Hieb of MIA.

035jimhieb

Listen to this episode to discover:

  • The role of an industry association like Marble Institute of America and its partnership with Building Stone Institute
  • New OSHA requirements and how to stay in compliance
  • Why and how to foster a safe workplace
  • The value of MIA+BSI’s vast training library and other resources

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes… and please let us know what you think! You can leave comments for this show on the StoneTalk Facebook page or on this site.

If you have stories or insights that you’d like to share with other fabricators, please reach out to Patrick.

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Transcript

Patrick: Welcome to StoneTalk, the podcast for countertop fabricators. Brought to you by Moraware, makers of JobTracker scheduling software and CounterGo estimating software for countertop fabricators. I’m your host, Patrick Foley.

Today, I’m speaking with Jim Hieb, Chief Executive Officer of the MIA+BSI. How are you today, Jim?

Jim: Doing great, Patrick, thanks again and really appreciate all the work that Moraware does with the podcast really helps the industry out, thank you

Patrick: Appreciate it, thanks for your kind words. So, can we just start for anyone who might not know what the MIA is, can you explain for us at a high level what is the MIA, what does it do?

Jim: Absolutely. So, every industry has a trade association that represents it, and if you have clients that are doctors, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, odds are those professionals belong to their industries’ trade association. So, the Marble Institute of America is the largest stone association in the world, and you may have noticed when Patrick introduced me he said, “MIA+BSI.” Because we’re…

Patrick: What’s the BSI thing?

Jim: …in a two-year joint venture with the Building Stone Institute which is another stone association. But we’re in a two-year joint venture, we’re working hand in hand, collaborating, combining resources, eliminating duplicated services, and ultimately our plans are that we believe that we’ll be formally merging in 2018. So, when you hear MIA+BSI, it’s the Marble Institute of America and the Building Stone Institute

Patrick: So, based on what you just said, it sounds like that joint venture is going well so far, you’re happy with the results?

Jim: It is going well. It is going well. At the end of the day, what’s the most important thing? That we’re serving our members well. So, as the leading stone association combined, you know, we’re all about promoting safety. We write the industry standards, we have tons of technical resources available to our members. And at the end of the day, we also help them in the promotion of natural stone.

Patrick: And let me give you a real softball question to start here. If I’m a fabricator, why should I join this organization? What’s in it for me? What am I gonna get out of it?

Jim: You know what? That’s an interesting question because we get asked at all the time, and really you have to look at it kind of from a two-prong standpoint. It’s not just about what you can get, but it’s what you can give back to the industry. So, many-many of our members, they look to their membership as an opportunity to give back to the industry that’s been so good to them. An industry that they’ve been able to feed family, support family, support the community that they are in. So, that’s one way to look at it, but the other way is what’s in it for me?

If you’re looking for turnkey safety training programs, having a pulse of what technical standards you need to keep in touch with, and just being a phone call or an email away from full-time staff that are dedicated to serving the members. And we have lots of programs, whether it’s a shipping program you save on FedEx or LTL shipments or whatever. But often times, we say one phone call to get the right information can more than pay for your membership. So, please, when you think about membership, look at it not only has what can I get out of it but what can I give back?

Patrick: Okay. And if I want…first of all, that’s a great answer. I think that’s one of my favorite things about this industry is that the people in it are so generous in [inaudible 00:03:39]. I’ve lightly involved with so many different industries in my life, but I’ve never come across one with a…

Jim: I absolutely have to agree with you. I’ve worked in other industry, and when it comes to the stone industry, some of the most genuine, sharing people you could ever meet. And a lot of times it’s just a matter of asking, and there are people always on the sidelines ready to contribute, mentor, coach and help other fabricators be successful.

Patrick: So, again, okay, I’m sold, I wanna join, what do I do? Where do I go to join?

Jim: Absolutely. You can go online to naturalstoneinstitute.org And there’s a membership section, but better yet, pick up the phone and call, call our office, talk to Jeff or any of the staff, they’d be happy to guide you through the process. And really, it’s not just what’s in it for me, but we try to be good listeners. What are you looking for? What’s keeping you up at night? What types of resources are you interested? For some, it may be that they’ve got some up and coming employees that they wanna nurture and grow and we’ve got programs for them. But for others, you know, we shouldn’t really sell safety if that’s not what they need, if they need something else. So, we try to be good listeners, but I know today we’re gonna be talking a lot about safety.

Patrick: Yeah, all right. So, we’ll come back to that at the end of the show. And I know this isn’t gonna be the last time we talk because the MIA is really important. Let’s just leave it there, if you’re not a member, you should be. But let’s jump into a specific issue for today, safety and specifically safety regulations. As I’ve heard, some of our customers talk about OSHA and some things that appear to be changing with OSHA, can you give me…again, just as someone…imagine I’m new to this industry, just started a shop and I’ve never even heard of OSHA, what is OSHA? Why should I care? How does it apply to my business?

Jim: Absolutely. So, when it comes to…if you’ve never heard of OSHA, you can go online osha.gov. But there isn’t a website address that’s within our association’s website that I wanna encourage everyone to go visit, and it’s naturalstoneinstitute.org/silica. So, its naturalstoneinstitute.org/silica, you can also do a forward slash safety. But those are two websites that have a ton of information, but in short, OSHA is the federal government’s regulatory enforcement agency where they go into all kinds of industry. And they have a variety of regulations and it’s all about employee safety. If we have any of our podcast listeners that are in Canada, OSHA is the equivalent of Health Canada. So, we try to, as an association, publish resources for both the U.S. and Canada, but specific to OSHA.

OSHA is going to come in and they’re going to regulate to make sure you have a safe shop. They’re going to be concerned about dust, hearing, they’re gonna be concerned about eye protection, they’re gonna be concerned about lock out tag out. So, again osha.gov, but better yet why not just pay attention to what fabricators need to know and you can learn more by going to our website /silica or /safety.

Patrick: That makes a lot of sense, and so to be clear, this isn’t about consumer safety, right? This is employee.

Jim: Absolutely. So, the buzz in the industry right now, and we’re gonna talk a lot about the change in the new silica rule. But this is not…obviously, our fabricators are very concerned about consumer safety. They’re doing things like maybe limiting the age of children that can tour their slab show room or they are requiring their consumers to wear safety glasses when they’re touring the fabrication shop. OSHA is not necessarily about consumer safety, this is about employee’s safety.

Patrick: And I know you…you shared with me a presentation slide deck on some of these issues. So, that…since I haven’t seen you give the exact presentation, it makes me wanna ask questions about it. I know one of the responsibilities of a trade association is to…I don’t know if lobby is too strong a word, but to represent your industry and on issues like this in front of the government. So, in general, when you think of lobbying and government, you think of pushback. But separate from all that, there are laws and regulations currently in place, do you or does the MIA see these regulations as particularly onerous? Are they a bad thing or are they ultimately toward good goals that are worth doing even if they weren’t regulations? I guess that’s what I am ultimately trying to get to.

Jim: Absolutely. You know, the response to that and I think the way the industry needs to look at it, is we as an association, the MIA+BSI and others, we really have an obligation to make as many training resources as possible to help our member companies, fabricators. And it’s not just fabricators, it’s the slab distributors, it’s the installer, it’s the folks that go out and do the restoration work, but we have an obligation to take government regulations and do as much education and training around it as we possibly can. The other side of this if there’s a good cop bad cop side of this is absolutely.

I mean, there is a sense within the industry and within our leadership at the association that the federal government, oh my gosh, they’re just being over the top in terms of the level of fines that they can levy and the regulations themselves. For 40 years in…let’s talk silica for a second, for 40 years, industry has reduced the number of silicosis cases that were impacting our industry many times over. So, why change the rules? So, often times, we say, “Oh my gosh, they’re just going over the top.” It is important that the industry knows that not only did the natural stone industry but the concrete industry, the roofing industry and most of major construction trades, we’ve jointly filed suit in federal court in Washington, D.C. and we’ve challenged the number of the things that OSHA is doing right now.

But if there are two takeaways for those that are thinking about OSHA, the over the top stuff they recently announced to that, if they come into your facility and they find something wrong, the potential fine that a company can face, they just increased those rates by over 70%. They called it a cost of living increase. Well, common sense just kind of says, “Seriously?” But the fines have gone up dramatically. Also, there will be changes to the silica rule, the important thing is we just don’t know to the extent. So, we can talk a little bit about some of those changes on this podcast. But the takeaway from the question you asked is we have an obligation as an industry to do our very best to educate fabricators and others about what’s going on with regulation.

But secondly, every once in a while, we need to challenge those regulations, and we have done that. And now the outcome of that, it’s important remember that when it comes to construction, the stone industry is a very-very small piece of it: the masonry contractors, the roofing industry, the home builders. So, it was important for us that we couldn’t tackle this on our own. That’s why we joined a couple coalitions of associations representing construction.

Patrick: And I think it’s important to recognize there’s two distinct conversations being had here. One is safety for safety’s sake, because it’s a good thing, and the other is regulations that are a part of doing business. They’re there, they’re largely out of your control on a day to day basis. That’s why getting together as a trade association so you have representation. Again, coalescing with even bigger organization can give the industry a voice. But those are two distinct conversations and let me even give my personal context on this why this is important. I have spoken to an owner of a countertop shop who lost an employee.

A slab fell on them and killed them. That affected obviously the employee’s life, but it affected the company significantly, everyone was devastated. The owner was devastated. It greatly impacted their business and obviously changed his attitude about safety. I heard him mention this at an event when people were poopoing safety a little bit. So, that’s why I think it’s useful to make the distinction between, hey, there’s safety that everyone has a moral obligation to address. And then there’s regulations which you have…it’s in your business interest to work within them, because if you don’t, you’re gonna get big fines. And, you know, not be so distracted by them as an individual that you lose sight of making money and in the interest of railing against the government. The trade association isn’t…

Jim: Absolutely.

Patrick: If I’m correct, it sounds like the MIA is involved in both of those conversations.

Jim: We really are and there’s that old saying, “Focus on what you can control.” And there’s a lot with government regulations we just can’t control. It’s bigger than us and where do you wanna really invest your resources? So, what we can control is providing resources for the industry so that they’re aware and that they have the resources to take what’s going on and train their employees properly. You know, the number one cause of injury and death in our industry has nothing to do with the dust we might breathe or hearing protection or anything like that. The number one cause of death and injury is the falling of a slab or a bundle or a piece of stone.

So, what are we focused on right now? In a couple weeks, we’re gonna be introducing a new training video just on what’s referred to as the fall shadow or the danger of stone falling on an employee. We can never emphasize that enough, and so there’s often a saying we say that with safety sometimes there’s complacency. Well, I’ve been in the industry to 30 years, and I know what I’m doing, you know, every time you touch a piece of stone, you have to respect it and understand the dangers that are caused from it.

Because as you indicated, you talk to a fabricator owner that lost an employee, nobody wants to have to make that phone call to the wife or girlfriend or children of an employee to say, “We just had an accident.” And I think everybody is on the same page there whether it’s a small mom and pop fabricator, four or five employees, or as we get into some of our larger fabricator members, everybody is focused on the same thing. These are people that we grew up with, these are people that our kids are going to school with. These are the coaches of little league teams, girl scout and boy scout, troops and ultimately the safety of employees, why we’re focused on this.

Patrick: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. So, again, I think I will encourage people to go to your website and look at the videos for the discussion of safety for safety’s sake, because I think that’s a better avenue for discussing these things.

Jim: Yeah, absolutely. And you mentioned that I’d shared with you, Patrick, a PowerPoint slide deck on silica specifically and I know you wanna get into that. Just wanna remember for everyone, if you’d like to see that PowerPoint, there’s actually a webinar on the /silica page. So, you can learn a lot more about the subject we’re just gonna get ready to get into.

Patrick: Awesome, thank you. And I’ll include a link in the show notes to this as well. So, just, again, as if I’m a fifth grader because technically I’m not a fabricator So, if I went out and started or bought a fabricator business today, I would, in fact, be learning these things as a newbie. So, tell me what even is silica and why do we call it silica instead of dust? What is the issue with silica and why do people care about it?

Jim: Absolutely. So, for most of our fabricators, we’re very fortunate and most of them have a very basic understanding of geology. And if you don’t have a basic understanding of geology, all you have to do is go to our website and download a copy of the Dimension Stone Design Manual. There is a chapter in that manual on every stone type that our industry works with. There’s one on marble, one on granite, slate, travertine, limestone and the like. But silica is a mineral that is contained within granite, sandstone, some slight traces in marbles and limestones. And clearly for those fabricators that are doing quartz surfaces, silica is in quartz as well.

But if you understand that the breathing of the silica dust can cause something referred to as silicosis, and there is a couple on that same website that, Patrick, you’re gonna provide everybody with a link. There are a couple toolbox talks, most fabricators are doing toolbox meetings, safety training meetings with their employees every Friday or every other Friday. Go download, there’s a couple basic training courses on what is silica and what do my employees need to know? Bottom line, if there’s one takeaway that you wanna take away from this podcast is you wanna minimize any stone dust in your facility if at all possible.

Patrick: Everything sounds worse when you add a cosis to the end of it or an osis to the end of it, so silicosis certainly sounds bad.

Jim: Absolutely. And it is bad and we think about we are so fortunate in our great industry that the equipment manufacturers, the tooling manufacturers, is that for the most part, our industry, our fabricators are cutting wet. So, as a general rule if you are a completely wet shop, you are probably in a pretty good shape right now that you don’t have to worry about most of this. But there is something that the new standard, I wanna highlight this, Patrick, the new standard requires that you have done basically breathing measurements of your shop. And they’re gonna require that that’s done on either an annual or an every three year basis.

And so one of the new things with the new silica rule is that they are requiring medical exams. In essence, they want you to have a baseline understanding of where your employees are. So, think about this. You’re a fabricator, you’ve been in business for 10 to 15 years and you’re very successful. You’re turning a profit every year. You’re supporting a number of families, you’re getting ready to hire somebody from another shop. You have no idea that employees background, are they at risk? What have they been doing in their past lives?

We also know as a general rule that if you have smokers working for you, their measurements are going to be higher and it’s just the combination of smoking and then the stuff that we breathe in industry. So, as you look through the PowerPoint and you listen to the explanation, you’re gonna see guidelines in the new standard that, hey, you need to do medical exams of your employees. And there may be cases where you’re gonna be required to have your employees wear respirators.

But the key here is nobody should overreact. Don’t jump out and go buy a bunch of respirators tomorrow and say you’re gonna be safe. The number one key message is that fabricators need to know what their current employees’ measurements are. What type of dust is in your facility? It is not enough just to say, “We’re cutting wet, we’re okay.”

What you wanna do is say, “We’re cutting wet and we have taken measurements of our employees and we know that we’re below the allowable breathable limits for silica.” So, fabricators might be asking themselves the question, how do I know? So, there’s a couple things you wanna think about. OSHA is not only a regulatory agency. They have an arm of their division where you can actually go out and it’s called “I want to have a voluntary inspection.” Many of the folks that are listening to this podcast are already doing that. If you can actually invite OSHA in and what they do is they’ll come in, they’ll do a complete review of your facility.

They will identify things that you need to fix. So, let’s just say for example they notice that you’ve got some electrical cords that are frayed, or if you’re not meeting government regulations, if you’re using frayed electrical cords. Or let’s say you don’t have a lock out tag out program in place. What they’re gonna do is they’re going to note those things on a report. Here’s the key, they’re not going to fine you. However, they are going to give you, “You’ve got 60 days, 90 days, whatever, to correct these items.” So, it’s not necessarily a free get out of jail pass, but it’s pretty darn close, is that if you invite them in, you’re on their good list.

They’re gonna work with you, they’re gonna identify what you need to do, but here’s the key to silica. They will also come out and schedule free monitoring of your employees. So, what they’re gonna do is they’re going to set up…they’re gonna equip several employees in your shop with breathing apparatus. They’re also going to test for noise levels in your facility, and that’s all part of the voluntary OSHA visit. Now, let’s say you make a conscious decision you don’t want OSHA in under any situation. You know, if you contact your insurance company, many of insurance companies that are providing you with your worker’s comp coverage or just your general liability insurance programs, they’ll come out and do measurements for you too.

So, a couple ways to do this, you can A., invite OSHA in through the voluntary program and we do encourage fabricators to do that. There are several links on the OSHA website to find…because it’s a different age…if you’re in Michigan versus Ohio versus California, you may be working with different divisions of OSHA. But A., consider a voluntary OSHA inspection, they’ll take care of your monitoring for you. B., contact your insurance company, they’ll help you too, there’s also companies, for-profit companies that you can hire to come out. So, you just need to think about how you wanna do it. There are free avenues and there are paid avenues.

Patrick: Nice. And it sounds like…I wanna make sure I understand this correctly, there is an issue of both measuring the employees themselves as well as measuring the environment, so…

Jim: Absolutely. So, what may happen is that there may be a portion of the fabrication facility where the measurements in that area are above the allowable level and other areas, and you think about if you’ve walked into any shop, they tend to be pretty linear because our fabricators are focused on workflow. The stone comes into the building, in this side of the building, it goes out as a finished product on the other end.

So, there may be that there are certain activities that are driving up what the employees are breathing. So, you may have to take corrective measurements there. Again, don’t be scared of this, remember that so many of our shops are cutting wet today. So, they’re probably okay, but you still need to take measurements. Now if there are shops listening to this podcast that are a heavy dry cutting, man, you wanna look at all the controllable measurements you can possibly take to minimize the dry cutting and get to wet as quick as you can.

Patrick: So, why would someone be doing dry, is that a matter of cost?

Jim: I think some of it’s a matter of habit, some of it is a matter of…you know, even our wet shops, they’re gonna go in, “Op, I’ve gotta take care of edge detail that my line polisher or the guys that were doing the hand work they missed something.” And sometimes it’s just quicker to do it dry or that’s the mentality. But we as an industry really need to minimize as much dry cutting as we can. Now for those that are dry cutting, also remember, there are lots of our supplier equipment members that are providing different types of protection.

There’s air vacuums that will drive that air to be collected. So, it’s moving…the dust is moving away from the employee that’s doing the dry cutting and there other things like that. So, talk to…you know, if you can’t go completely wet, talk to the many-many suppliers out there that are providing dust collection systems to minimize the exposure to the employee.

Patrick: All right. So, when I think of complying with regulations, I think of paperwork. First of all, let’s even…let’s ask two questions here. What are the specific regulations or regulations are…it looks like there’s more than one I have to care about and how do I deal with paperwork? What kind of records am I gonna have to look at keeping in order to be compliant with these things?

Jim: Absolutely. I mean, let’s take it at the 10,000 foot level first. You want to be training your employees around all types of safety. So, if you’re listening and you’re saying, “You know, we don’t do anything,” there are a number of training documents, training videos that are available for free to the industry. And I want to be very careful, you asked me initially, what’s the benefits of membership? There’s a lot, there really is.

Patrick: Here is one right here, it’s all in one place, right?

Jim: But the one thing we’ve made a conscious decision of is that when it comes to safety, 90% of what we’re providing the industry is now free to the industry. You don’t have to be an MIA+BSI member to get access, but what you’re gonna find is once you get access to the free stuff, there’s a lot more that you get by being a member. So, first and foremost…

Patrick: I think that speaks for itself by the way.

Jim: …schedule…

Patrick: That is a great policy. Again, you don’t even have to be a member to get this information that we’re talking about here. Just go there, get the safety stuff and hopefully it’s…you will be compelled to wanna share it.

Jim: Once you see it, you’re gonna hopefully say to yourself, “I want to align my company…

Patrick: Exactly.

Jim: …with the top notch trade association that’s doing the right thing.” So 10,000 foot level, number one, train your employees. Pick a topic, sit down with them, do a training. So, from a documentation standpoint, every time you sit down with your employees, make sure there’s a signing sheet and that you’re documenting who attended. Now, if you have a couple guys that are out or they’re in the field that day, make sure you circle back with them and say, “Hey, Bob, Larry, I know you weren’t able to attend that safety meeting we had Monday morning, let’s sit down Wednesday and let’s go through everything.” But you document first and foremost that they attended the training. And that is so-so important.

The second thing you want to be thinking about around safety training is it is…it’s a lot like there’s a big difference between a marathon and the hundred yard dash. The hundred yard dash is a quick event, it’s over with and you’re done. With the marathon, you pace yourself and it’s about constant drive and striving for an end goal. When it comes to safety, there is no end goal, you have to continuously be training. So, it’s like that marathon. You know, you stop so many meters or yards into it and you take a drink of your Gatorade or you take that protein packet that you packed with you running the marathon.

The same is with safety, you pause couple times a month and do a safety training. Hey, this week, we’re talking about silica, next week we’re gonna be talking about slab handling and some things that we noticed when we had that last container delivered to our facility. We need to do a better job, guys, and we’re gonna sit down and talk about it and we’re gonna utilize either some of the training videos or some of the toolbox talks that came from the MIA+BSI. We wanna make sure everyone has a complete understanding, hey everybody, remember complacency. We cannot be complacent with this stuff, I don’t wanna be the one that has to call one of your family members to say there was an accident. So, documentation. First and foremost, document that you’re doing training. Secondly, when it comes to the silica stuff and as you read through and watch the training videos that we have on our website, it’s going to be extra documentation about the measurements of your employees.

So, if you have measured your employees, if you had OSHA out or you’ve done it privately through your insurance company, go back and look at all the logs of where they’re at today. Then compare where they’re at today with the new regulations. And for those that are…you maybe haven’t studied the regulations, what you wanna remember is the following. What was the allowable, breathable silica measurements on February 1st of 2016, the middle of March, they were cut in half? So, there is a…if the measurement is below this, you’ve gotta take action. But if it’s below something else and you’re doing fine, you don’t have to do anything.

Patrick: All right. When you say measure employees, does that mean them going to a doctor or is it a self-test? How does an employee get measured?

Jim: The employees or a certain number of employees in your fabrication facility, there will be basically devices hooked to their shirt. And over an eight-hour workday, they’re going to measure what that employee’s exposure was to airborne stuff in the facility. They’re going to take those measurements and say…and provide you with results. So, you wanna look at those results very-very carefully. It may seem daunting. Well, what type of equipment do they need to be hooked up, how long? That’s why there’s experts to do this. So, if you decide to invite OSHA into your facility, they’re gonna take care of all that. If you don’t invite OSHA in your facility and you work through your insurance company, whatever provider they have, they know exactly what to do.

The key is this, know-know-know what the current measurable rates are for your employees in your facility today. And that’s the number one message, is if you haven’t measured your employees, go out and measure them. There’s additional, Patrick, documentation that employers, fabricators are gonna be faced with now, you’re going to have to have a chest X-rays of your employees. And that’s going to have to be done every three years.

But we’re gonna be providing reminders and different training things for that. The other thing people will…how quickly do I have to do this? Gosh I haven’t done anything yet. There are…you basically have a year or two to be fully compliant. So, get into the details if you haven’t already. Don’t panic, but get into the details. And we’ve published on our website those dates that you have to be concerned about. And really it boils down to there are some compliance dates in June of 2017, and there’s some compliance dates in June of 2018.

Patrick: And if I completely ignore these things, what is gonna happen to me? If somehow or another a person gets this far in the podcast and still kind of says, “I’ll get to it eventually.” What are the consequences if I ignore these things?

Jim: Yeah, I think you have to look at…you know, and this has been the theme of our discussion throughout. There really are two consequences. Consequence number one is what the government will do if they walk into your facility and they find that you’ve done nothing. And that’s going to be a monetary fine, and so that’s theme number one. Theme number two is, man, don’t we want our employees to be in the safest possible environment we can provide for them? So, consequence number two is doing nothing and then learning a few years down the road that because you did nothing, because you did nothing, you now have an employee that is faced with some serious health issues. So, you really have to look at the consequences twofold and I think there’s the fine component, but there’s just the doing the right thing component too.

Patrick: Awesome, thank you. Any other aspects of these silica rules we haven’t covered that you wanna squeeze in, any details or high level concepts that we missed?

Jim: Yeah, absolutely. So, one of the new things coming out with the regulation is that if you have employees that measure over the allowable level, what do you do? Well, the new rule says that you have to have in place a written silica control exposure plan and you know what? Let’s be realistic. Most of our members, they’re doing safety when they can but they’re focused on a clean safe shop. But they’re ultimately focused on quality installations and really meeting their clients’ and their consumers’ expectations. Nobody has the time to prepare a written silica control plan.

So, here’s what we’re doing at the MIA+BSI. We are currently creating a template that will be 80% completed and so…and it will be done early part of 2017. So, we’re gonna make a big announcement, it’s going to be free to the industry. And you can download that written plan, put in particulars of your company. So, it meets and matches your facility and then you will have exactly what you need to be compliant when OSHA says, “Where’s your control plan?” We’re gonna have that for you. So just another added benefit for stone companies to align themselves with us. We’re trying to meet needs before you need it. So, before everybody has to be compliant, we’ll have that plan ready for you.

And I just really wanna highlight that if you have measurements, just go compare them with the current plan or current new rule. Number two, if you haven’t done measurements, go out and get measurements please. We recommend you go the route of a voluntary OSHA site visit. But if you’re not comfortable with that, there are other ways to do it. And then number three is please take advantage of all the safety training resources that we have. The last thing I wanna add is the following, you will soon see an announcement that the MIA+BSI will be rolling out a new online university for training.

Patrick: Nice.

Jim: And the first 70 classes, yes I said 70 classes, will all be safety specific and they will be free to the industry. And finally, you may…you know, so for your employees, it’s gonna be an online university, but for your employees that you wanna sit in front of a computer for 20, 30 minutes, they’ll be able to take advantage of a class. It will be much like a university. Once they take the class, there’ll be an exam. If they pass the exam, there’s a certificate of completion and in our day of instant gratification of social media and everything, who doesn’t want instant gratification that they passed a class? You can have your employee take the class.

They’ll be able to present…get a certificate if they pass, bring it to you, show you that they did it, but all these classes are also going to go to a transcript. So, as an employer, you’ll be able to be involved in keeping track of training through our online university. Now, second part of this, if you don’t have the means to sit every employee in front of a computer to take a class, as a manager, you can designate somebody who will download those resources, pull all the guys and gals in the shop together for a quick 20, 30-minute safety talk, give the class in a group setting, have the employees take the exam in a group setting.

And then you can come back to your employee as a manager owner, pull up your employees’ records and identify everybody that took the class and will do the same thing. It will feed to a certificate and feed it to an online transcript. So, that is pretty cool that not only are we producing resources that you can download, but now, you’re gonna be able to track it because it’s all tied to an online university.

Patrick: I think that’s just great and that highlights the sort of reasons why we like to support the MIA+BSI as well. Because our goal as a business is just to help fabricators build more successful businesses, and one of the biggest issues that we hear mentioned is employees, finding good employees, training employees, making good employees and anything in our industry to help make employees better. And also a subtle detail in their, proving that an employee has certain knowledge and skills and awareness, it’s not only it’s good for the employees, but it’s also good for businesses to find ways to show that they are getting good people when they hire someone new.

So, if you’re hiring someone who’s already gone through all these things and you can see the transcript, “Oh, okay, Johnny has already taken all these tests, great. That’s another signal that he really knows what he was doing and was working at a good shop not one that taught poor practices.” So, I think that’s a really good idea.

Jim: Yeah, and Patrick, not only do all these training resources that are available free to the industry. Not only are they good for ongoing training, but you’ve just on-boarded a new employee, think about that. You now have 60 to 70 online classes that you can utilize to bring that person up to speed. Anything that we do at the MIA+BSI, it doesn’t take the place of good hands on in the field training. But we can certainly compliment and do a lot of support for you. So that what you’re doing in the field to make sure that everybody’s safe is complemented with a battery of everything from safety posters, to videos to toolbox talks, to online university, to up-to-date links on things ranging from silica to whatever. Patrick, this has been a great discussion and I don’t think this will be the last time we talk about safety.

Patrick: Certainly hope is not the last time we talk and thank you for your time. There’s more things I wanna talk to you about. So, I’ll have to get you back on the show soon, so many things that the MIA contributes and I really appreciate that.

Jim: Great.

Patrick: All right.

Jim: And with the power of the Building Stone Institute with us, it’s gonna be even better moving forward, so thanks again.

Patrick: Thank you so much Jim, talk to you soon.

Thanks for listening to StoneTalk the podcast for Countertop Fabricators. If you liked this episode, be sure to visit stonetalk.org or subscribe to StoneTalk in iTunes for more. Visit the StoneTalk show Facebook page to join in the conversation and follow @stonetalkshow on Twitter.

StoneTalk is brought to you by Moraware, makers of JobTracker scheduling software and CounterGo estimating software for countertop fabricators. I’m your host, Patrick Foley, and I look forward to spending time with you again on the next episode of StoneTalk.