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An investigation into the use of plasterboard manual handling aids in the GB construction industry and factors helping and hindering the practicability of their application

There is clear potential for risk of musculoskeletal injury when lifting and handling panel products such as plasterboard; and dry-lining operatives have been shown to have one of the highest prevalence rates for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in the construction industry. These problems are common because many of the materials they handle are heavy, and require the adoption of awkward postures (ie bending and twisting) when lifting. The introduction of ergonomic improvements may reduce physical load and the incidence of sickness absence. However, despite the existence of mechanical lifting devices for handling and assisting with the installation of plasterboard, there is reservation within the industry as to how practicable such solutions are in terms of their ‘real world’ application. The purpose of this report is to investigate the manual handling and work related risk factors for MSD associated with the installation of plasterboard, and to evaluate the impact of manual handling aids in terms of risk reduction and the time taken to install plasterboard.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2010-07-05