How to avoid the most common injuries as a drywall finisher
Drywall finishing is, like many other skilled trades, a physically demanding line of work. Long hours, rough job site conditions, and continuous pressure on muscles and joints can often lead to on-site accidents and possible long-term injuries. But what are the biggest risks, and how can you avoid or at least mitigate them?
Everyone who works in drywall finishing is fully aware of the pains and strains the job brings. Frequent lifting, pumping compound, climbing ladders, walking on stilts, putting pressure on neck, shoulders, and elbows while applying the compound or using blades. You know it all. The risk of muscoskeletal injuries, falls, or cuts is high. So it surely pays to explore how to avoid or mitigate them as much as possible. But is that even realistic?
Are there any feasible ways to avoid or mitigate accidents or injuries?
Relaxing and taking a long holiday is the best solution to avoid any work-related risks. But unless you literally hit the jackpot, that’s likely not an option. On top of that, you probably enjoy your job. But is it possible to do it with less physical effort or risk of straining something? Yes, there are some common-sense things to consider:
- Be fit: It might sound like stating the obvious, but it really helps to be in good shape when doing physical labour. Try to exercise, focusing on the muscles and joints that are most affected. Doing some stretching before or after the work day can really make a substantial difference.
- Safety first: There is no way to avoid all accidents or injuries, but there is some specific PPE that can help you work more safely. Safety boots, gloves, and a pair of goggles are no-brainers of course. But you should also wear a mask when sanding or spraying compound.
- Think ergonomics: Be critical when selecting tools. Of course they have to be robust and of good quality, but also make sure they offer you the best possible comfort. Rubber grips or handles might reduce irritation and bring comfort, while for some a hawk is easier than a pan. Extension poles might take some pressure off your neck, and organising your work so you don’t have to lift your arms above your shoulders can make it easier to work for longer in comfort. Analyze what makes you tired or causes you pain and try to alter these parts of the process to see what works best for you.
Look into automatic tools: Drywall finishing willl always require skills and physical effort. But why not get some powered support to avoid or reduce some of the continuous pumping, manual application of joint compound or full plasterboard finishes, and using physical force when working endless walls and ceilings. Smartly integrating some automatic equipment, like battery-powered pumps, continuous flow systems, and spray pumps in your tool set can help you get much more of your skilled finishing done with much less fatigue and reduced injury risk.
There is no magic solution to avoid any risk or strain when working as a drywall finisher. But working more safely and reducing the risks of injuries might be more feasible than you think. Take a step back and look into what you can do to make your job site and working situation safer and improve your ergonomics. You will definitely benefit from it, in both the short and long term.
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