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Solution: Half-weight cement bags

Half-weight cement bags are packed with less cement material and reduce the weight that has to be lifted and carried during cement-laying tasks. 

Description:

Using half-weight cement bags is an administrative control that can reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) from manual material handling and stooped postures.  A regular cement bag weighs approximately 94 pounds.  This weight of exceeds the NIOSH recommended lifting weight of 51 pounds.

 

Mason tenders work in support of bricklayers and blocklayers. A regular part of their work involves carrying or lifting heavy cement bags (94 lbs) and manually emptying them into mortar mixers. The weight of these bags (94 lbs and up) exceeds the NIOSH recommended lifting weight of 51 lbs.  Decreasing the weight, by using half-weight cement bags, significantly reduces the risk of low back pain and back injury. 


Risks Addressed:

Heavy lifting and carrying and stooped postures can cause low back disorders, such as muscle strain or a disc herniation (“slipped disc”), which is bulging of disc material possibly pressing on the spinal cord or nerves that go into the leg.  The half-weight cement bag can help reduce heavy lifting and carring by reducing the amount of material that has to be lifted and carried at one time.   

Heavy lifting and carrying and stooped postures can cause low back disorders, such as muscle strain or a disc herniation (“slipped disc”), which is bulging of disc material possibly pressing on the spinal cord or nerves that go into the leg.  The half-weight cement bag can help reduce heavy lifting and carring by reducing the amount of material that has to be lifted and carried at one time.   


How Risks are Reduced:

Half-weight cement bags (less than 51 pounds) reduce the amount lifted by mason tenders in each lift. 


Quality of Evidence (Risk Reduction):

  • Safety and health experts believe there is a risk reduction.

Quality of Evidence Explanation (Risk Reduction):

There have not been independent published studies measuring the effect of half-weight cement bags on reducing musculoskeletal disorders. Regardless, safety and health experts believe that masons will be less likely to develop musculoskeletal disorders if the weight of the bags is reduced from 94 lbs to below 50 lbs by using half-weight cement bags on the jobsite. While handling half-weight cement bags, spinal compression would be less compared to handling standard-weight bags. Thus, the risk of low back pain or back injury would be decreased.


Effects on Productivity:

With the use of half-weight cement bags, mason tenders would  probably have to lift twice as many bags.  However, lifting half-weight cement bags is less fatiguing and should not slow down productivity.

Research in exercise physiology has shown that lifting a weight near a person's maximum lift capability is much more exhausting then lifting even a slightly reduced weight.  Exercisers can be expected to perform 12 lift repetitions with a weight that is about 70% of their maximum lift weight. Maximum productivity is likely to be achieved at even lower percentages of maximum lift weight.  Productivity gains begin at the point where increase in repetion rate plus reduction in recovery time (both immediate and long term) exceeds time lost to multiple repetitions.  


Quality of Evidence (Effects on Productivity):

  • Safety and health experts believe there is an increase in productivity.

Quality of Evidence Explanation (Effects on Productivity):

Safety and health experts believe reducing the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders may lead to increased productivity because: 1) masons can work for longer periods with fewer breaks and less fatigue, and 2) there may be a reduction in lost time injuries.


Contributors:

Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC – Eastern Washington University, and Carlos Sanchez-Marin, DDS, MS – University of Iowa


Hazards Addressed:


Sources:

Salem, Sam, Genaidy, Ash, Albers, James, Shell Richard, Sobeih, Tarek, Rinder, Maria.  Use and Acceptability of Reduced-Weight Portland Cement Bags in Masonry Construction.  An Observational Pilot Study.  Prepared by the University of Cincinnati and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
 

Availability

TXI
For purchasing information, visit http://www.txi.com or contact 1-972-647-6700 CTRMSales@txi.com

 

Return on Investment

To calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your specific application, please visit our Return on Investment Calculator. While a specific ROI example has not been developed for this particular solution, the ROI Calculator provides a useful tool and guidance on how to generate your own on investment analysis.

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