Gypsum Count Clarifications, Safety

Donald E. Smith, CCS

July 2005

In the June 2005 edition of this column I was attempting to address data collected for drywall production. Michael Gardner, executive director of the Gypsum Association, has provided, as he puts it, "a bit of clarification on the subject.”

In North America, gypsum board (drywall) production statistics are published on a square foot basis; not on a tonnage basis as you state. Gypsum ore shipments are tracked by tonnage, but board shipments are calculated on the basis of square feet in the United States and Canada (and square meters in most other countries where data are available).

Production statistics for the United States and Canada are broken into seven broad categories to allow for differentiation between products, and they are also segmented geographically. This allows us to provide a good overview of what the industry is manufacturing in any given month. and to determine where material is being shipped.

You can order the data from The Gypsum Association via our Web site, www.gypsum.org. We also supply it, via a long-standing agreement, to the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS posts it on their Web site http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals two or three months after we make it available on ours.

Thanks, Michael.

Back in May I was addressing a question about finishing drywall. In the course I referred to a publication of the Gypsum Association titled Application and Finishing of Gypsum Board, GA-216-2000” Lee Jones of the Gypsum Association pointed that the current edition is dated 2004. My apologies to the fine folks who worked on the 2004 update; the slight was not intended to overlook your fine efforts. I have also relegated my out-of-date copy of GA-216 to the archives of the John H. Hampshire Memorial Library and have the current edition on my desk.

My question is about safety and how to enforce the requirements for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). We have had considerable difficulty convincing our employees that they need to remember to bring their hard hats and safety glasses to work each day. We have tried citations, loaning them hard hats and safety glasses without great success. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Our employees seem to think we have an endless supply of hard hats.

At AWCI’s Safety Director’s forum in Tampa, Fla., Jackie Clark, safety coordinator of Daley’s Drywall in Campbell, Calif., talked about the very same problem in her organization, so you are not alone. Jackie’s solution was really a very simple one. At each of their job sites, the superintendent has a supply of special hard hats for those employees who forget and leave their hard hats at home. The employee is given the choice of returning home on their own time (read: no pay) to retrieve their hard hat, or they can wear one of the special hard hats on site. She said it only takes one day of wearing the special hard hat and the employee in question never forgets—and other employees tend to never forget theirs again too. What makes these hard hats so special? They’re Hot Pink. Most of the other safety directors in attendance said they had the same problem. Erik Haruch, director of Safety and Loss Prevention of McNulty Bros. in Chicago liked the idea so much he took aside his boss during the convention and convinced him to place an immediate order for Hot Pink hard hats. I haven’t hear about Erik’s results, but you can bet he has some Hot Pink hard hats gathering dust on a few job sites in the Windy City.

If you have ideas or methods for handling sticky safety issues, send your suggestions to me via e-mail, smith@awci.org, and we’ll pass them along in future issues of AWCI’s Construction Dimensions.

About the Author
Donald E. Smith, CCS, is AWCI’s director of technical services.