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World at work: Marble quarrying in Tuscany
  1. G Angotzi1,
  2. L Bramanti1,
  3. D Tavarini1,
  4. M Gragnani1,
  5. L Cassiodoro1,
  6. L Moriconi1,
  7. P Saccardi1,
  8. I Pinto2,
  9. N Stacchini2,
  10. M Bovenzi3
  1. 1Department of Occupational Medicine, Viareggio Local Health Authority, Italy
  2. 2Department of Prevention, Siena Local Health Authority, Italy
  3. 3Clinical Unit of Occupational Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Trieste, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Prof. G Angotzi
 Servizio di Medicina del Lavoro, Azienda U.S.L.Viareggio, Via G. Garibaldi, 92, I-55045 Pietrasanta (Lucca), Italy;

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Job hazards and preventive measures for workers

Since the beginning of the Christian era, the Apuanian Alps between the provinces of Massa Carrara and Lucca in Tuscany, have been a centre for the excavation of white marble, venato and arabescato, and Cardoso stone. Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of calcium carbonate with a quartz content of less than 1%. Cardoso stone (from the name of the village of Cardoso) is a dark grey metamorphic sandstone made up of alternate thin layers of microgranular quartz and carbonate, as well as lamellas of disorientated mica, for example muscovite, with a quartz content of 60%. They are precious materials, used in Italy and worldwide to cover surfaces and flooring or as an architectural or structural element in building and for the realisation of sculptures. To prevent, as much as possible, the alteration or breakage of the material, the methods used for extracting this stone are different to those adopted for the extraction of rocks used in the building or chemical industry.


The quarrying industry in the Apuanian Alps directly employs about 1000 workers in the area of Massa Carrara and 200 in Alta Versilia (a small mountainous area in the Province of Lucca), including the transporters of the extracted material from the quarries to the processing and commercialisation locations. The workers are exclusively male. To be a quarryman, specific professionalism is required, only attained with a long apprenticeship in the local quarries. In Alta Versilia the average age of the quarrymen is about 40 years and the specific length of service is high (over 10 years).

In the same area, the excavation, or to use the formal term “exploitation”, is carried out at an altitude between 200 and 1600 metres above sea level. Because of the altitude some quarries close during the …

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  • Competing interests: none declared