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company has been cited for violation of silica dust levels where another company down the street has been given approval, though not final, for doing the same thing. The inspectors should have a competence to discuss with the employer the practicality of change. The inspectors that cited us had no conception of what it means to build a mausoleum which involves silica dust levels. They had no competence of what handling large pieces of granite entails.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate this time given me. My company has a reputation in the granite industry for doing right for its employees in furnishing proper working conditions. We covet that reputation.
My recommendations today are in keeping with my company's policy through the years.
Senator Nunn. Thank you very much, Mr. McGarity.
I think it might be helpful if we hear from Mr. Norman first, and then we might have some questions.
Mr. Norman, you might want to move those microphones up closer.
Mr. Norman is the international representative of the Granite Cutters, International Association of America.
TESTIMONY OF ALBERT S. NORMAN, INTERNATIONAL REPRESENT
ATIVE, GRANITE CUTTERS, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
Mr. NORMAN. Mr. Chairman, I have never done anything like this before, and I am glad to have this chance to come and appear before your committee.
I live in Elberton, Ga., and have been in the granite business, one way or the other, for about 40 years. During that period of time, I have owned my own granite business, and I have done just about everything there is to do in the granite business.
At this time, I am the international representative for the Granite Cutters, International Association of America, which is affiliated with the AFLCIO.
In Elbert County, there is something like 60 granite plants and I am in the plant of most of those every week. I have, therefore, some knowledge of what is going on in those plants, what is happening to the employees, and what OSHA is doing. I would like to tell this committee what I am finding out about what OSHA does.
OSHA has done some good things for the men who work in the granite industry in Elbert County. They have done some bad things for the men who work in Elbert County. They have improved the working conditions of the men in the granite industry, and they have eliminated some hazards to the men who work in that industry. I think the law that OSHA works under is good. I would not want to see the law done away with. What I would like to see is for OSHA to change the way it is doing some things, because I think they are not consistent, do not treat everybody alike, and are not realistic in some of the things they do. This makes for bad regulations for the Government.
I find that OSHA is not consistent in what it tells people in the granite industry. This causes confusion and an attitude of "so what”
and hurts the creation of favorable conditions for men in which to work. It also increases the likelihood that conditions where men work will not be improved as they should be. I find that when OSHA tells one granite plant one thing and another granite plant another thing, the employers talk and the employees talk. This makes for no good and the men that I want to help are hurt.
I wish to talk about a case in point. There have been real problems in Elbert County in knowing what to do about hard hats because of the way OSHA has done it. You could go into one granite plant and find that OSHA has told them hard hats did not have to be worn. You could go into another plant and find that OSHA has said that they should be worn. Now, when some people have to wear hard hats and some do not, that will cause friction in an industry. The problem is increased by realizing that many times in Elbert County the granite plants are real close together. The picture I get is lack of uniformity in telling employers what they should do as demonstrated by the hard hats.
Maybe OSHA would say this cannot be helped when you have a lot of people doing what they have to do, but I say, when it comes to something as important as whether or not you should wear hard hats, you should not find in an industry which is closely grouped, the problem that I have seen,
One thing that concerns me about OSHA and its activities in the granite business, perhaps more than anything else, there is no enforcernent of the Federal standards industry wide. Dust and sound is something that you find everywhere you go when people are working in granite plants, and they are making grave monuments, and grave markers. The noise comes from blasting the granite, and the dust is coming from using sand in shaping and carving the monuments and grave stones when the lettering is made, and when such things as the flowers are put on the grave stones.
OSHA in the granite industry has shown concern for things beside noise and dust. It has shown concern for such things as guard rails, blade guards, fire extinguishers, electrical matters and other like things. I find that OSHA has gone into very few of the granite plants in Elbert County. Harmony Blue Granite Company, Inc., has been inspected more than any employer that I know of in Elbert County, and has had, over the years, an employee-safety program second to none in Elbert County. It has spent as much money as anyone in Elbert County to correct conditions where men work.
I don't know but a few granite plants in Elbert County where OSHA has made any efforts about dust and noise. There are some plants who still do not have dust collectors and OSHA has not inspected them. I know of places that are doing the same thing on dust that Harmony Blue Granite Co., Inc., is doing which have never been inspected. I think the industry should be inspected evenhandedly and not in the way to create the idea that some employees will not get their protection of the law but other employees will.
I make these remarks in the knowledge that OSHA has not just overlooked some granite plants, but in the knowledge that OSHA has not inspected wide parts of the granite industry.
My interest is the employees and I want them to get the advantage of an evenhanded, across-the-board industry wide enforcement. I do
not see that in the granite industry and feel that OSHA should have some control for this to be done. OSHA may say they have to start somewhere and that is true. What I wish to point out to this committee is the problem of the failure to have in industry wide program when that industry is concentrated in one place, like the granite industry is in Elbert County.
I want to talk about another thing that causes me concern about what OSHA does. This deals with what should be done about dust in the granite industry. I understand that OSHA's opinion about dust is controlled by a regulation. If so, the regulation in my opinion is wrong. OSHA says the granite industry must guard against dust other than by use of forced air respirators. These have long been used and I have used them. OSHA says we must stop using the respirators and go to some other method, but to do away with the respirators will reduce to the granite industry the ability to put out a particular product.
The best work in the granite industry is done by using respirators. To do what OSHA wants will simply reduce a product in the industry of a certain quality. OSHA thinks if everybody makes a lesser product then no one is hurt. Using respirators lets a man make a product he cannot make without it. I think it is wrong for OSHA to require the industry to get rid of respirators when no complaints have been inade to me about them. I know the air men breathe through the respirators is better than what OSHA wants by taking respirators away. The industry should operate under a regulation that allows for the making of different quality products. If OSHA has their way, there will pass from the industry the chance of putting into the marketplace products above the average.
OSHA wants to make all products average. To me, something is wrong when a regulation will eliminate from the industry a chance of turning out a product above the average and at the same time the air men breathe is not better and, if anything, is not as good in my. opinion. I know by my experience the granite industry can turn out a better product with the respirator. Something should be done about a regulation that works that way.
Labor is interested in good working conditions. It is also interested in turning out a good product. I want both. OSHA does not seem to be concerned about the good product. I hope the committee can do something to change the way OSHA looks at things.
One last thing I want to talk about concerns what is a failure in the law. I understand when a union representative goes to a granite plant, the law affords him no type of protection from the abuse or threats of an employer. He cannot do his job if an employer stands in the way with abuses and threats of one kind or another. At times, I have run into this and have had some personal experience. I would hope the committee could do something to change the law to give the union representative protection.
I wish to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for letting me come and tell you about some things that I hope would help us all. I will be glad to answer any questions that you may have.
Senator Nunn. Thank you very much, Mr. Norman.
About the respirator: You are saying that basically the respirator is necessary in order to make certain quality products. Yet OSHA is saying they will not allow the respirator to be used. You are also saying not using the respirator causes more harm to employees in terms of the air they are breathing. Is that correct?
Mr. NORMAN. Senator Nunn, that is right.
I have used the respirator myself and I know that when you try to shape-carve a monument through a curtain, that is what OSHÅ wants us to do, you cannot do as good a job as you can when you are in the room with a respirator on.
OSHA tells us we cannot go into the sandblast room with a respirator on—that we have to shape-carve outside of the room through the curtain without the respirator. An artist could not paint a picture through a curtain. This is the same thing, the sandblast man is an artist.
Senator NUNN. I understand that.
Mr. NORMAN. I know from personal experience that he cannot turn out a good product unless you let him get inside the sandblast room with the monument. The air outside the sandblast room, where the man would be blowing through a curtain, is not as clean as the air being filtered through a respirator—the Bureau of Mine respirator, which has been approved. We have been using them for 30 years, I believe.
The granite industry has worked all this time with a respirator and they have been upgraded as they come on the market. OSHA complains about the noise. You are going to have noise when you have 100 to 150 pounds of pressure blowing against the stone to make it cut. You have to have pressure to make the sand cut the stone.
I am not here particularly to defend the Harmony Blue Granite Co. but I do want to say that in my 10 years as international representative they have proven to me that they will do everything possible to update the working conditions of the people in their plants.
Harmony Blue has one of the most modern plants in Elberton, Ga. They have been inspected three times. We have people with plants falling apart and thev have never been inspected. I will also take up for the employers. They have to be given an even break.
Competition is keen in the granite industry. Every mullberry tree has a small granite plant under it. I am not fabricating something to you. Come down there and I will show you. They have one, two or three men working. They load these monuments on trucks and deliver them all over the country. These people do not pay workmen's compensation, unemployment insurance, or hospitalization and life insurance.
Harmony Blue Granite Co. cannot get by without paying all of these benefits. The Government is inspecting the people apparently that they think have got the money to do these things.
Now, is it a regulation for the safety of the employees or for the company that has the money to pay the citations. The people out in the small plants, these employees are getting the same exposure and more so than the men in the plant with the proper facilities, yet they go past these plants and do not inspect them.
I want to see like I tell you here, evenhanded across-the-board inspections. Small companies inspected as well as the large companies. I would like to see everyone treated the same. If OSHA is going to inspect the granite industry it should be inspected industrywide. They should require everyone to do the same thing.
Senator Nunn. Mr. Norman, do you think when a violation is not a serious violation in terms of endangering somebody's health or life on an immediate hasis, the employer should be given a reasonable opportunity to correct it before a citation is issued ? Mr. NORMAN. Senator Nunn, definitely so.
I wouldn't go rabbit hunting and shoot a rabbit in bed. I would give him a chance.
What OSHA is doing is inspecting the plants, citing the company on the first inspection without a chance to correct the violation.
I do not know of a plant in Elberton that was inspected that they did not cite them for some small amount. We have some very modern plants and some are very bad.
They have picked out the modern plants to inspect and have cited them.
I am not against citing them, but
Senator Nuns. You think they ought to be given a reasonable chance?
Mr. NORMAN. I think so.
Congressman LEVITAS. I want to commend both of you on excellent testimony.
Mr. Norman, I wish there were a lot of people in Washington who could hear what you had to say today.
I think you put your finger right on it. In effect, what you are saying using OSHA as an example, that here a well intentioned piece of legislation that sets out to improve something, and to do good by means in which it could be applied, that it certainly is causing serious problems, and that it is being applied inconsistently, and that it is self-defeating, is that what you are saying?
Mr. NORMAN. Yes, that is correct.
I have had my life threatened with a hammer from an employer, accusing me of reporting him, which I had not done.
I did not even know he had been inspected. When I called OSHA, I had given them a call about this kind of situation. They told me to write them a full report. I did. They wrote me back, and they said he had not even been inspected, and they later, they called me, and I talked to him, and I asked him about this, and they said, well there is not anything they can do about it, there was no regulation in the law that would protect me, here I am supposed to go into the plant, and inspect it every week or two, and if I have the complaint, I am supposed to do something about it, yes if I report a man, or I am threatened, and this one occasion I could have been killed.
The man did all kinds of things. That is not pleasant to me, to try to look at something like that.
The problem was, I gathered, the OSHA man had immediately asked where he could get in touch with me when he made this inspec