Manual Handling Reminder

Over 170 construction clients and contractors have recently pledged to improve the health of construction workers by aiming to eradicate occupational ill health and disease. We’ve included here advice from organisations such as the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) on handling plasterboard.

Lifting and handling plasterboard – often in awkward postures – has led drywall operatives to have one of the highest prevalence rates for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in the construction industry. We appreciate the impracticality of using mechanical lifting devices on many sites, but would urge you to re-visit ergonomic equipment manufacturers, like Starke Arvid, for up-to-date information about new and improved handling equipment.

Here’s our reminder of how best to handle plasterboard products:

  • If possible, all loads should be transported and lifted to a scaffold or work area using lifting equipment such as a telehandler or crane inlift
  • Agree in advance the provision of a lifting/loading bay
  • Keep work areas clear of clutter and equipment
  • If possible, use a trolley to move loads around the scaffold or work area
  • Check for any loads over 20kg and make lifting arrangements
  • Any loads over 20kg should be positioned using suitable lifting equipment used by trained persons
  • Avoid awkward postures or repetitive tasks – or take frequent breaks
  • Ensure all operatives have learned safe lifting techniques as it is not just the weight of a load that can cause injury; light loads if not lifted correctly can also cause problems
  • Use and maintain PPE correctly

There is a risk of pain or injury from working in awkward positions, performing repetitive tasks, or lifting. Operatives should observe the following to help prevent injury:

  • Avoid lifting manually where possible; use a lifting aid or device where practical to do so
  • Bend your knees; use the strong leg muscles instead of your back
  • Place one foot slightly in front of the other use a good stance for stability
  • Keep the load close to your body
  • Check the load for stability and look out for sharp edges
  • Assess the weight of the load and if satisfied, lift smoothly
  • Don’t twist your body – use your feet to change direction
  • Look out for tripping hazards prior to lifting or carrying a load, plan your route
  • If in doubt, don’t lift get help or speak to your supervisor

The importance of a Pre-Project Delivery Assessment

The Study Inn site in the heart of historic Cambridge has delivery restrictions that would make the most experienced of site managers wince: four hours restricted access, 7.5 tonne weight restriction, single sided offload only.

Deliveries went smoothly from the start because of the thorough preparation done by SIG Sheffield and our logistics provider, Wincanton. As a result of their Pre-Project Delivery Assessment (PPDA), a bespoke plan was put into place, which included:

• Specialist single-sided 16 tonne moffett hired for the project
• Boards split into one tonne pallets to accommodate a single hoist on site
• 30 minutes notice given by the driver on vehicle arrival

The project – an 345-bedroom student accommodation block – is progressing without any delivery problems. If you’d like to know more about a Pre-Project Delivery Assessment, please contact us at

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