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     Behind the Surface Podcast Episode 32

Enter to Win an ISFA Award: Now Accepting Submissions Through July 31

ISFA opened its annual awards program, the ISFA Awards. The program honors excellence in application design, fabrication and installation of projects using surfacing materials across seven categories. The deadline for submissions is July 31, 2024.

The ISFA Awards are open to all ISFA fabricator members representing successful applications. Associate members may submit entries or nominate ISFA fabricators for consideration. There is no cost to enter. 

Five of the awards are project-based; the categories are:

  • Commercial Excellence in Projects Under $100K.
  • Commercial Excellence in Projects Over $100K.
  • Residential Excellence in Projects Under $20K.
  • Residential Excellence in Projects Over $20K.
  • Sustainable Project of the Year.

Additionally, two awards are given to individuals or companies that excel in the industry:

  • The Fabricator of the Year Award.
  • The ISFA Hall of Fame Award

“Fabricators founded our association to provide growth opportunities for surfacing industry professionals,” said Marissa Bankert, executive director of ISFA. “The ISFA Awards program is designed to create awareness around the wide array of innovative surfacing materials on the market today, but above all, it’s a platform for our fabricator members to gain recognition and elevate their businesses by showcasing the outstanding work they do every day.”


Got an issue in your business that's weighing you down? Tell us about it and we'll consider adding your topic to an upcoming event, virtual or in-person.

ISFA aims to provide the tools and resources you need to break down barriers in your business. If you've got a problem, we've got answers!


Fabricators Heat Up Their Skills in Pennsylvania with ISFA's Training Program

Fabricators from across the country gathered the first week of June in McSherrystown, Pennsylvania, for ISFA’s second Solid Surface Fabrication Training event of the year. The hands-on, two-day session is designed to provide attendees with skills in all facets of the fabrication process, including layout, templating, seaming, support, sanding, edges, cutouts, backsplashes, finishing, installation and more.

Participants completed a vanity application with an integral bowl sink, built-up edge profile, edge inlay and examples of coved and set-on style backsplashes. This week’s session, hosted by ASST, also included an expanded lesson on thermoforming. Known for their innovative, patented thermoforming technologies and product designs, ASST takes on project challenges others avoid, and the team there was happy to share their knowledge and experience to help others find success fabricating solid surface in an endless array of applications.   


The next Solid Surface Fabrication Training session will be August 6-7 at Gecko Solid Surface Solutions in San Antonio, Texas. 


OUT NOW: The Latest Issue of Countertops & Architectural Surfaces Magazine

Countertops & Architectural Surfaces Magazine Q2 2024 CoverIn this issue of Countertops & Architectural Surfaces, we’re calling for Seamless Integration: From streamlining production and improving efficiency to empowering your employees, discover ways to optimize your workflow to maximize your business’s potential.

We cover making the most out of production capacity, troubleshooting machinery to improve efficiency, innovations in heavy machinery that keep fabricators on the cutting edge, employee engagement and retention strategies and a fabricator in Pennsylvania with a remarkable legacy spanning more than four decades.

Find all this and more in this issue of ISFA’s Countertops & Architectural Surfaces magazine.



June is National Safety Month

Each June, the National Safety Council (NSC) leads National Safety Month, an annual observance to raise awareness of the leading causes of preventable injury and death. According to the latest data available, preventable injuries are the third leading cause of death in the United States and took more than 227,000 lives in 2022.

“First launched in 1996 to educate and encourage safe behaviors at work, on the roads and in communities, National Safety Month is also a time to remember that keeping each other safe is one of the most important things we can ever do,” said Lorraine Martin, president and CEO of NSC. “At NSC, we know employers and individuals who encourage others to be safe at work, at home, and everywhere in between are preventing injuries and saving lives. Thank you for being a safety role model; the impact you have on others is immeasurable.”

As part of the month-long observance, each week of June is focused on a specific safety issue. This year the topics include:

Week 1: Safety Engagement
Week 2: Roadway Safety
Week 3: Risk Reduction
Week 4: Slips, Trips and Falls

Click below for more information on National Safety Month and to access free workplace safety resources such as graphics, videos, games, articles and more.


California Bill Aims To Require Licensure for Fabricators

Lawmakers in California are seeking to clamp down on which businesses can legally operate as surface fabricators, amid growing concerns about the rise in silicosis cases among workers.

Health officials have correlated silicosis to engineered stone because of its higher silica content compared to natural stone. Silicosis is caused by respirable crystalline silica (RCS), which occurs when the materials are cut, ground or polished. More than a dozen fabricators in California have died of silicosis.

According to the LA Times, "In the San Fernando Valley, outreach workers have found immigrant workers cutting the artificial material in dusty shops with scant protections. When Cal/OSHA took a closer look at the industry in 2019 and 2020, it found that 72% of shops where it conducted air sampling were in violation of silica rules. It recently estimated that out of nearly 5,000 such workers statewide, as many as 200 could die of the disease."

That will change if lawmakers pass AB 3043, a state bill that establishes a licensing system for businesses that fabricate engineered or natural stone. The bill would prohibit businesses from legally operating as fabricators in California without a license. To obtain a license, shops will need to prove they follow state safety requirements and ensure employees are trained in all protective measures. The bill would also prohibit manufacturers and suppliers from providing slabs to unlicensed fabricators.


Silica Safety: ISFA Weighs in When Forbes Asks, 'Are America's Favorite Countertops Going Away?'

For years, designers and specifiers have been recommending quartz countertops as way to elevate any space. Writer and Designer Jamie Gold, who frequently covers wellness design and housing trends, looked beneath the surface to discover that engineered stone has a dangerous side. Are America's favorite countertops putting those who fabricate the material at risk?

According to the American Lung Association, approximately 2.3 million U.S. workers are exposed to silica in the workplace, including 2 million in construction. Gold said she wasn't aware of the risks to fabricators when she was recommending the material to her clients.

Now she wonders, "As designers and homeowners — particularly Millennials and Generation Z — weigh human issues more than ever in product selection, this becomes a powerful consideration. It is too for regulators here and abroad, as new worker safety rules and even a national ban go into effect."

Gold reached out to ISFA to learn about safe fabrication practices and how the industry creates regulations that protect fabricators from the risk of silicosis while manufacturers innovate safer materials.