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

Sam Salem, Ash Genaidy, James Albers, Richard Shell, Tarek Sobeih, Maria M. Rinder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-269
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Factors and Ergonomics In Manufacturing
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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