Hot Spot: Stack Gypsum Boards Flat on Jobsites to Avoid Safety Hazards
Overloading the floors and walls of a home under construction is an invitation to a service call after the homebuyer moves in. A common problem on many jobsites, stacking gypsum boards against walls or on the side can not only cause damage to the home but also presents a safety hazard to work crews. With hot spot training, you can ensure good construction practices by all trades by providing a simple solution to common missteps.
On a typical jobsite, the supplier of the gypsum stocks the product in locations preferred by the installer. This often includes loading stacks of gypsum on its side and/or leaning it against framing members. When the framer arrives, he cringes at the sight of this practice, but typically cannot do anything about it alone because the delivery company does not take orders from the framing contractor. As a result of improper storage, it is the framer who will be asked to explain or repair the sagging floor or adjust the doors that do not close properly.
A Google search on “gypsum material handling procedures” provided very clear instructions: “Gypsum Association literature states unequivocally that board should be stacked flat because stacking boards vertically against a wall poses a safety hazard.” . . . and . . . “a stack of only 25 boards weighs over a ton.”
The incorrect loading shown in Figure 1 illustrates how stacking gypsum vertically overloads the wood framed floors and wood framed walls and leads to structural damage. For example, the doorway of an upstairs bedroom is a convenient central location for installers but that location is not designed to experience a single concentrated load of over 2,000 pounds. Damage occurs whenever the floor is so overloaded at a single concentrated point that the wood frame is permanently overstressed and damaged.
Even the builder is often out of the loop of instructing the gypsum delivery company about how and where to stock the materials in the home. Stocking the home the correct way requires the gypsum panels, each weighing over 80 pounds, to be stacked in the center of the room at the center of the span of the floor joists. Since gypsum is typically delivered by a boom truck when the builder’s field manager is not physically present in the home, the incorrect delivery and stocking is difficult to correct. Even when corrected, it is often after much damage has been done to the wood frame.
Unfortunately, while this practice is convenient to work crews, it is not in the best interest of the future homeowner. Reinforcing hot spot do’s and don’ts helps to curb jobsite mistakes and is one step toward avoiding problems later on. Hot spot training uses a simple graphic to depict the right and the wrong way of performing field construction tasks. Typically presented in both English and Spanish, the visual cues of hot spot training are most helpful to overcome language barriers on the jobsite.
Figure 1 shows a hot spot training sheet provided by an NHQ Certified framing contractor to the builder. The framer has suggested that the builder, the gypsum installer, the delivery company, and the framer all meet at the job and address the problem. A team approach is needed to bring about a solution.
This is a good example of the partnership that develops on a jobsite where many trades share the common goal of continuous improvement. NHQ Certified trade contractors and builders all have a regular documented continuous improvement process.
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