Statistically speaking, serious accidents and fatalities are actually on the rise for many smaller construction companies. There are a few potential culprits we can point the finger to here. However, the most likely issue is that safety protocols are either being ignored for speed or not put together very well in the first place. To make sure that your drywall company doesn’t fall into that statistics, here are some key tips for drywall safety.
Invest in the best personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment is a key part of overall drywall safety. There are a few different areas that these services. For example, taking the time to wear safety glasses and a mask will protect you from the dust that comes up while working with drywall. Protective footwear will protect you if a sheet or chunk falls on your toes or feet. Wearing gloves with PVC dots will help to improve your grip to minimize the chance of dropping anything. First aid equipment is also something that you should consider having nearby, in case the worst does happen.
Use the proper drywall tools
Whether you’re putting in a sheet of drywall or doing a smaller project, it’s important that all tools that you have with you are the proper quality. A tool breaking or failing while you work could lead to serious injury. Examples include a drywall jack collapsing while supporting some wall, or a knife breaking off while you are in the middle of using it. Try to work with brands you are familiar with, or that are recommended to you by other professionals.
Practice proper lifting techniques
There is a certain method to use when holding drywall to avoid the chance of injury. A single drywall sheet can range anywhere from 55 to 120 pounds, and it’s not always easy to determine this at first glance. Keep yourself protected by avoiding lifting while you bend or twist. By the same token, you don’t want to find yourself holding something up in place for an extended period either.
The best thing to do is try and get your sheets delivered close to a job site to avoid injury risk. When you do have to move things on site, use carts and dollies rather than doing things by hand. Rather than holding and affixing drywall at the same time, use a jack or lift.
Use certain practices to minimize injury risk
While dropping a piece of drywall or having it fall on you is the obvious major injury risk, there are a lot of smaller ones too. For example, repeated motions like sanding, cutting, and taping can cause a lot of small injuries to your muscles and joints.
Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by regularly rotating different jobs. Try to avoid reaching overhead while holding drywall or moving loads above waist height. This will avoid the chance of back or joint injuries. Finally, a short break every now and then is important while on the job. Fatigue is a major reason otherwise safe workers get injured. In addition, this is built-in time to make sure you stay hydrated.
Know the materials you are working with
Whether we’re talking about the joint compound or other materials on your drywall job, you want to know the potential risk of every single one. The easiest way to do this is put together a material safety data sheet. This can let people know about the potential risk of exposure to any single material, and what specific gear they need to have on. Make sure that any sheet you make in this format is easy to read and understand, so your team can get information on the fly.
See what is around you while you work
Awareness matters when working with drywall, especially in an existing home. For example, if there is electrical wiring nearby, the slightest contact could result in a serious accident. As a result, you don’t just want to rely on the blueprints for the workspace when putting drywall up. Actually take a look in the work area before you get started to keep an eye out for any hazard. Also, make sure you make a formal record of this as well. This way, if anyone joins the project later on, they will also be aware.
Try to minimize dust exposures
Respiratory protection is a major concern while working with drywall. We already mentioned the effect that PPE has, but even with a mask and safety glasses, the dust can get to be too much. Don’t be afraid to leave the worksite for a bit if there is heavy dust around or you are feeling any sort of respiratory distress. It’s also a good idea to try and practice good ventilation on your job site to minimize the chance of things getting to that point.
Work in pairs
Working in pairs is important for two main reasons. First, there are going to be certain sheets of drywall that are just too heavy or unwieldy for a single person to move on their own. It’s better just to get extra help rather than try and force it through on your own. Secondly, having a partner helps you be more accountable for every other thing on this list. For one reason or another, a person on their own may forget to wear a certain piece of PPE, check their material sheets, or follow lifting techniques. Having someone else on hand means you always have a possible reminder.
All of this advice can do a lot for your occupational safety and health. However, it’s important to know that the safest approach can change over time. While the basic principles of safety will stay the same, there are going to be new pieces of equipment, drywall mixtures, and even ergonomic techniques that come out over time. It’s important that your installation drywall teams stay plugged into the latest developments so they can always be working at their safest.