Tripartism and social dialogue

Safety and health in Peru’s construction sector - 25 kilos… not more!

Peruvian trade unions and the ILO’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean are supporting an initiative to protect construction workers’ health.

News | 13 November 2018
© SuSanA Secretariat
LIMA (ILO News) – Workers, employers and government representatives in Peru have launched a campaign “25 kilos…not more!”. The aim is to reduce the maximum weight of cement bags and improve workers’ quality of life ahead of major infrastructure construction projects associated with the 2019 Pan American Games that are due to be held in Lima.

Promoted by the Building and Wood Worker's International (BWI) and the Federation of Civil Construction Workers of Peru (FTCCP), the initiative is supported by the ILO through its Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The campaign “25 kilos… not more!” aims to limit the maximum weight of cement bags to 25 kilos to prevent injuries in the construction sector. Currently cement bags in the local market weigh 42.5 kilos.

Carlos Rodríguez Diaz, Deputy Director of the ILO’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, praised the campaign and highlighted the importance of social dialogue between government authorities and the social partners (workers’ and employers’ organizations) in protecting construction workers’ safety and health.

Rodríguez also referred to the extensive list of ILO standards (including Conventions Nos 127, 155 and 187) that Peru has ratified that require appropriate enforcement. “The Pan American Games are the ideal background for this initiative since the construction sector is key to social and economic development in the country – not only when it comes to the creation of decent employment but also to enterprise sustainability in the construction sector,” he said.

The ILO estimates that globally more than 2.78 million people die each year because of work-related accidents or illnesses. More than 374 million accidents workplace take place every year.

Some countries have already set the maximum weight of cement bags at 25 kilos. In the European Union manufacturers, government representatives, workers and unions have agreed that loads exceeding 25 kilos represent an ‘intolerable level of risk’.

In the region itself, Uruguay approved Act 423/07 on the Reduction of Manually Transported Loads in 2008. This limits the maximum weight of commercial bags, including cement bags, to 25 kilos.

“In the run up to the ILO Centenary, the campaign takes place in the context of discussions on future ILO initiatives in the construction sector,” Rodríguez said.

The launch brought together Ítalo Román Mórtola Flores, Vice-Minister of Labour and Promotion of Employment; Luis Villanueva Carbajal, Deputy Secretary-General of the Federation of Civil Construction Workers in Peru (FTCCP); Nilton Freitas, Regional Representative of the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) for Latin America and the Caribbean; Marco Paz Ancajima, General Secretary of the Peruvian Construction Chamber (CAPECO) and Carmen Benítez, the Regional Specialist of the ILO’s Bureau for Workers’ Activities.

They were joined by representatives from Argentina, Chile, Panama, Peru and Uruguay who shared experiences and discussed progress on the enforcement of safety and health regulations at national level.