The Gypsum Products Development Association (GPDA), as part of its commitment to the continual development of safety, has announced that from the end of July 2010 UK and IRISH plasterboard manufacturers will add new printed guidance on manual handling to plasterboard products. The safe handling guidance is one of a number of initiatives generated by an industry-wide forum led by the Health & Safety Executive and comprises: a warning triangle, a graphic showing a two-person board lift, board weight, and a statement to ‘Handle Safely’. These four parts will appear on the reverse face of plasterboard products manufactured by GPDA members: British Gypsum, Knauf Drywall, Lafarge Plasterboard, and Gypsum Industries (Ireland). The new advisories will appear alongside existing technical and compliance information already provided on plasterboard products.
The first part of the new guidance will be a graphic on each board showing two people lifting a panel, which serves to highlight good manual handling practice and decrease the risk of injury.
The ‘Handle Safely’ statement serves as an ongoing reminder and ‘call to action’ for installers to assess the task and seek guidance on good manual handling practice where necessary. The board weight value will be displayed either as a maximum weight in whole numbers (e.g. 26 kg), or a range (e.g. < 25kg) depending on the plasterboard manufacturer. This information is provided for reference only and will help installers in their on-site risk assessment of manual handling tasks. Please note that as the board weight quoted is a maximum figure which has been rounded up, it may exceed the weight values provided in the manufacturers’ literature.
The warning label can only be a guide. Actual risk is affected by a wide range of factors such as the route to the job, installation, weather conditions, the size of the operative, etc. so on-site assessment is always necessary.
Crispin Dunn-Meynell of the GPDA says: “The presence of this higher level of safety information on plasterboard products represents a significant improvement in the on-site guidance for dry-lining installers. It also demonstrates the commitment to continuous safety improvement by the GPDA, as part of industry-wide efforts.”
He adds: “Gypsum based interior construction solutions have become a critical element on most projects in sectors from housing to hospitals because of their flexibility, economy and sustainability. Enhancing the safety guidance on plasterboard products in this way adds to those advantages for installers handling plasterboard on site.”
A range of HSE-approved training, information and project initiatives related to plasterboard is being developed in co-operation with the UK Contractors Group (UKCG), Housebuilders Federation (HBF), Federation of Plasterers and Drywall Contractors (FPDC), Association of Interior Specialists (AIS), National Association of Shopfitters (NAS), and the Builders Merchant Association (BMA).
The Gypsum Products Development Association (GPDA) represents the four major gypsum board and plaster manufacturers: British Gypsum, Lafarge Plasterboard and Knauf Drywall in Britain, and Gypsum Industries in Ireland.