Just a few days after Christmas, when the Christmas spirit was still in the air, Northwest Houston suffered a tragedy. On December 29, 2016, a granite slab fell and crushed a worker killing him instantly. This shocking loss occurred at Vivaldi Stone in Northwest Houston inside Beltway 8. Vivaldi Stone has thirteen locations across Texas and New Mexico.
The full report on how the incident occurred has not yet been released to the public. The investigators from the Houston Police Department have shared limited information with the public so far. The current story is that two workers were loading granite slabs onto a truck when a slab fell, crushing one of the workers. These slabs were eleven feet by six feet and weighed over four hundred pounds each. It is not clear what machines or safety equipment the workers used to load the granite slabs.
The company was reported saying that the incident was due to high winds that gusted in and blew the slabs over while they were being loaded. The wind speeds on December 29, 2016 ranged from fourteen to forty miles per hour. The Beaufort Wind Scale, developed in 1805 to estimate wind speed, depicts winds moving fourteen miles per hour to move leaves and twigs. It also depicts winds of forty miles per hour to break twigs from tress, impeding walking. If the winds were at their peak of forty miles per hour, would that have been strong enough to blow the slabs over and cause this tragic incident?
The question of whether or not the wind was strong enough to cause the incident is moot from a safety standpoint. A safe course of action in a situation where winds are that strong is to not load the granite slabs at all. If the winds were strong enough to impede activity, then handling and loading four hundred pound granite slabs was unreasonably dangerous and should have been stopped.