Use of Ball Bearings to Manoeuvre Heavy Loads

Cement boards are used in various applications on the project such as being rendered for gas farm walls and soffits. The boards are drilled into for fixing, and over 1,400 holes are required. Previously, this was a laborious operation as the operative needed to lift and rotate the board to drill the holes. These boards weigh approximately 13 kg/m2 so there are challenges in manoeuvring them and the risk of musculoskeletal injury.

A reportable injury occurred on site, where an operative suffered a muscular strain whilst rotating such a cement board. Fortunately, the injury was minor but it did require the worker to rest until a full recovery was made, and they were safely able to return to work on site.

An investigation took place following the incident and several avenues were explored by one of the trades for how to conduct the works in a more safe way. The solution identified was a “rolling table” produced by drilling stainless steel ball bearing casters into a plywood sheet, onto which the cement board could be laid. This rolling table allows operatives to freely manoeuvre the cement board and drill holes without the need for manual handling.

Most importantly, the innovation mitigates against future accidents and injuries but there are also other benefits. It is cost effective (the 10 ball bearings cost just £17), easy to install (takes minutes to construct) and can be re-used. Full rotation of the cement board results in an easy-to-use solution to drilling that increases productivity and improves quality through a “doing it right first time” approach.

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Entry submitted by Mace

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