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Construction dust: Sanding taped and covered plasterboard joints

Sanding taped and covered plasterboard joints can produce high levels of gypsum dust. This means effective control is necessary. This page tells you how to control the risk and why. You also need to be aware of the general information on construction dust.

What you must do

Follow the Assess, Control and Review model. Pay particular attention to the following things:

Assess

Identify and assess: Sanding plasterboard jointing can produce high levels of gypsum dust. Anyone breathing in the dust cloud will be affected. Those doing the work will be particularly at risk. Follow the control steps below.

Control

Prevent: Think about limiting the risks before work starts by:

Control: If you need to sand plasterboard jointing, control the risk by:

Review

Maintain: Regularly look for signs of damage to the hood, hoses or extraction unit – pay particular attention to filters, extraction rates and warning devices. Someone competent should examine any dust extraction equipment thoroughly and test its performance at least once every 14 months.

Monitor: Decide if you need a health surveillance programme. You may need competent advice for this from an occupational health professional..

What you should know

Dry sanding plasterboard joints takes place indoors and often in small enclosed spaces. This can generate high levels of dust in the air. Ceiling work also causes this dust to fall directly into the workers’ breathing zone.

Watch the graph in the video clip below. This shows how much dust is created when dry sanding without dust extraction. The Workplace Exposure Limit for this fine respirable dust is dust is 4.0 mg/m3 when averaged over 8 hours. The work quickly produces high peak exposures of around 10mg/m3.

Uncontrolled plasterboard sanding video. To view this media, please turn on Javascript.

Now watch the video below. The graph shows a dramatic drop in the amount of dust when using extraction. These low levels and the less toxic nature of this dust means that RPE is not needed. It was used while filming as an example of good practice.

Controlled plasterboard sanding video. To view this media, please turn on Javascript.
Updated 2014-09-11