Enhancing Plasterboard Cart Safety: Insights from AWCI Webinar Panel Discussion

Plasterboard carts are essential tools in the construction industry, facilitating the transportation of heavy sheets and materials efficiently. However, improper use and a lack of safety precautions can lead to accidents and injuries on the job site. The Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry (AWCI) USA organised a two-part webinar, sponsored and led by Magnum Tool Corp, where industry experts came together for a panel discussion on plasterboard cart safety. The webinar featured four presenters: Livia Lin, Edward Hanley, Jorge Vazquez, and Mike Hill. In this blog post, we will explore the 13 main discussion points from the webinar, offering valuable insights on safety regulations, appropriate utilisation, and training methods to prevent accidents.

1. Common Accidents 

Several accidents can occur while using plasterboard carts, highlighting the importance of safety precautions. Accidents such as depression in concrete, boards sliding off carts and causing injuries, crushing of toes while pulling carts backward, and carts tipping over are common occurrences. By being aware of these risks, workers can take appropriate preventive measures to ensure their safety and the safety of others.

2. Caster Inspection

Regular inspection of the casters is vital for ensuring safe cart operation. Before each use, examine the casters for any signs of damage. Lightly lubricate the axle and swivel, being careful not to get lubricant on the wheels or tires. Check the integrity of the wheels and replace them as soon as you notice any lifting of the rubber from the hub. Don’t forget to set the brakes or locks before loading the gyprock and ensure they are functioning properly.

3. Cart Frame Inspection

Before using a plasterboard cart, it is essential to conduct a thorough inspection of the cart frame. Ensure that all components are free from fractures and cracks. Pay close attention to welded points, as cracked welds can compromise the cart’s structural integrity. Additionally, make sure the handles are securely welded and devoid of any damage. Using a broken cart can result in serious injuries, so it’s crucial to field destroy any unsafe plasterboard carts to prevent accidental use.

4. Design Principles of a Plasterboard Cart Frame

The design of a plasterboard cart frame plays a significant role in its stability and safety. The frame and plate angle should be maintained at 90 degrees to enhance stability during transportation. Additionally, accurately calculating and maintaining the center of gravity is crucial to prevent tipping while maneuvering loads of plasterboard. This design consideration enables secure transportation of up to a 4-foot (1.2-meter) height load of plasterboard without risking tipping accidents.

5. Controlling Access 

Uncontrolled access to plasterboard carts can lead to potential safety hazards and misuse. People might use carts for unintended purposes or load them with items that exceed their capacity. To address these scenarios, it’s important to implement certain measures. Marking carts through painting, engraving, or serializing can aid in easy identification. Moreover, when carts are not in use, they should be securely locked and, if possible, chained to a column or fixed structure to prevent unauthorized use.

6. Correct Loading of Plasterboard

Loading gyprock onto carts requires a systematic approach to minimise accidents and ensure secure transportation. Start by stacking the first board tightly into the 90-degree corner of the cart, and subsequently, load all sheets flat against the face of the frame. Lean the entire sheet against the cart, ensuring there are no gaps. This method helps prevent sheets from sliding off during transportation, enhancing overall safety.
“Mind the Gap” 

7.Locks vs Brakes

Understanding the distinction between locks and brakes is crucial when using plasterboard carts. Locks prevent the caster from spinning, thus keeping the cart tracking in a straight line. However, they do not prevent the wheel from spinning. On the other hand, brakes prevent the wheel from spinning, thus keeping the cart from moving. It’s important to use the appropriate mechanism based on the desired outcome. If you need to hold the cart in place while maintaining steering control, it’s recommended to install at least one brake on each end of the cart on the user’s pushing side for easy access.

8. Operator Positioning 

To ensure maximum steering control, the casters closest to the user should be allowed to swivel freely. On the opposite end, the casters should be locked to allow for easy tracking in a straight line. If you need to push the cart freely in all directions, all casters should be left to swivel freely. When using brakes, it’s best to install at least one brake on each end of the cart on the user’s pushing side for easy access and holding the cart in place.

9. Balancing The Load

When handling a heavy load, shift the weight over the fixed/locked front casters. This will make turning and manoeuvring easier and safer. Balance the load so that more of the weight is over the non-turning wheels Maintain a balanced load over the deck of the cart to prevent it from tipping.

10.  Do Not Overload

Take precautions when calculating load capacity. Even though a cart might be able to handle the weight, there are other considerations to keep in mind. These considerations include:

  • Do not move plasterboard over flooring that cannot support it.
  • Stacking the plasterboardl too high can cause rotator cuff injuries while loading/unloading.
  • It’s hard to move and stop the force of an overloaded cart.

11. Other DO NOTS

  • Do not shock load (drop heavy loads on the cart).
  • Do not abuse plasterboard carts by allowing the wheels and caster to be slammed on the ground.
  • Do not roughly plow through debris-filled floors, slam over obstacles, or traverse bumpy and rough surfaces.
  • Do not leave carts outdoors and exposed to the elements.
  • Do not ride on carts at great speed, run and push carts, or otherwise handle them recklessly.
  • Do not attempt to catch or stop plasterboard from falling. Get out of the way. Let it go.

Adhering to these Do Nots will contribute to a safer work environment and help prevent accidents.

12.Workplace Pre-Planning and Communication

Each worksite should have rules in place to ensure smooth operations and safety. This includes determining how many sheets should be transported flat on dollies and effectively communicating these rules to workers prior to delivery. Safety teams and management should engage in pre-planning activities, considering factors such as the weight that is safe for workers to push and whether the floor can handle the weight. Additionally, strategising the optimal order for stacking different sizes of plasterboard on the cart can significantly enhance efficiency. By proactively addressing these aspects, teams can create a safer and more productive work environment.

13. Training Musts

Training plays a vital role in plasterboard cart safety. It is essential to provide comprehensive training to all employees, even if specific provisions related to plasterboard carts are not explicitly outlined by OSHA. Hands-on training should cover loading and unloading techniques, inspection of carts for any damages, and adherence to safety policies in ramps and congested areas. Workers should be educated on proper hand placement to avoid crush injuries and be made aware of weight capacity. It is crucial to emphasize that the only safe action in the event of a falling cart is to get out of the way, as instinctively attempting to catch or stop the falling plasterboard can lead to severe injuries.

In conclusion, ensuring plasterboard cart safety is crucial for preventing accidents and injuries on job sites. By implementing the insights shared in the AWCI webinar panel discussion, including thorough inspections, controlling access to carts, practicing proper loading techniques, and providing comprehensive training, we can create a safer work environment. Additionally, being aware of the “Do Nots” when using plasterboard carts helps mitigate risks and promote safety consciousness.

To explore further information on plasterboard carts, we recommend checking out Wallboard’s range of plasterboard carts, the Wallboard Dolly Cart DC-1350 and The Telpro Troll Material Cart DC-1270 . These carts provide reliable and safe options for transporting gyprock on job sites.

For those interested in delving deeper into the topic and listening to the full panel discussion, we invite you to watch the two-part webinar on plasterboard cart safety: 

By prioritising safety, adhering to best practices and staying informed about the latest guidelines, we can create a safer and more efficient work environment when using plasterboard carts. Remember, safety should always be the top priority.

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