Increasing mason productivity needn't always mean working harder and faster. Larger masonry units can improve productivity on the job and reduce costs. However, certain factors limit the possible productivity improvement.OVERSIZE BRICKBrick larger than standard modular brick (nominal 4x2 2/3x8 inches) are oversize brick. Most manufacturers, contractors, and masons agree that oversize brick reduce labor costs because fewer brick are required to build the same wall. Though they're larger, oversize brick generally are not large or heavy enough to cause the mason unreasonable strain and fatigue. NCMA TESTS PRODUCTIVITY The National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) and Expanded Shale, Clay & Slate Institute (ESCSI) conducted studies to determine the effects on mason productivity of several factors, including the size and weight of concrete block. In the first study, mason productivity to lay one course using 24-inch block improved between 24% and 51% compared with 16-inch block of the same thickness and weight class. MANUFACTURERS CITE ADVANTAGESManufacturers of 24-inch block claim that larger units can produce significant savings when used appropriately. Each 24-inch block provides 50% more wall area than a standard 16-inch block, so fewer block, fewer joints, and less mortar are required. MASONS QUESTION CLAIMSMany masons doubt that larger block can really improve productivity. They say that the size and weight of 24-inch units make them more difficult to handle than standard block, and that fatigue slows the work enough to cancel any potential gains.