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Use and acceptability of reduced-weight Portland cement bags in masonry construction: an observational pilot study.

Salem S; Genaidy A; Albers J; Shell R; Sobeih T; Rinder MM
Hum Factors Ergon Manuf 2008 May-Jun; 18(3):253-269
Background: mason tenders are involved in semi-and unskilled work in support of bricklayers and block layers. Their work consists of manually transporting building materials and equipment, supplying individual brick/block layers with materials, and mixing and stocking mortar. Objective: the purpose of this pilot study is to determine the current availability and acceptability of reduced-weight Portland cement bags among mason contractors, cement suppliers, and manufacturers as a vehicle to decrease the exposure of mason tenders to physical risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Methods: forty-six producers, suppliers, and contractors that use Portland cement bags were used in this observational exploratory study. A questionnaire was administrated over the phone and data were collected regarding availability, practice of use, and preferences between full-and reduced-weight Portland cement bags. Results Only 17% of the companies produce/supply/use the reduced-weight cement bags. The main factors mentioned by the companies that influence the nonuse of small bags are reduced demand; increased cost; storage, shipping, and handling difficulty; special equipment requirements; and special packaging. Only 11% of companies interviewed are aware of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lifting recommendations that the maximum lifted weight should be 51 lb. Conclusions This exploratory study suggests that reduced cement bags may not be in wide use by producers/suppliers/users of Portland cement. A full-scale study is recommended to confirm these practices and find ways to significantly reduce the risk to which masonry workers are exposed. Application: the potential application of this study can be the development of new guidelines regarding the production/supplying/usage of 47 lb cement bags.
Cement-industry; Muscle-stress; Musculoskeletal-system; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Materials-handling; Manual-materials-handling; Manual-lifting; Ergonomics; Masons; Construction-industry
Sam Salem, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Fiscal Year
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NIOSH Division
Source Name
Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing
Page last reviewed: August 19, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division