In Europe, cement bags have, for many years, been limited to a maximum of around 20kg. This is in line with manual handling guidelines and legislation and respects the health and well-being of those who have to carry these bags.
In countries in the developing world, such as Morocco, cement bags weighing 50kg are the norm. These have to be carried by workers and pack animals on their backs, resulting in untold injury and damage.
In the case of animals such as mules and donkeys, they are typically loaded with two or four bags. In the case of a donkey carrying two 50kg bags, this amounts to more than the donkey's body weight. In the case of workers labouring in remote places and construction sites, without recourse to motorised transport, these 50kg sacs can be carried for long distances.
This is both inhuman and unethical. Failure to make safe alternatives more readily available is unacceptable.
We therefore urge the cement companies to respect the welfare of man and beast and to ban 50kg bags. In their place bags of 10-20kg only should be supplied.
Dear Lafarge, Italcementi, Holcim, Carnargo Correa and Ciments de l'Atlas.
Your companies profit from the burgeoning construction industry across the developing world. Unfortunately your profits often come at the expense of those who have to carry your cement.
The overloading of man, mule, horse and donkey is something that can easily be tackled by banning 50kg cement bags. By doing this you can provide workers with an alternative; you can make it possible for them to carry much smaller loads on their backs.
You have a responsibility to all those who carry your cement bags.
Please ensure that you do not contribute to the exploitation of these workers and that you do your bit to ensure they do not suffer back injuries and other problems arising from overloading.