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The Specialist In Drum Handling EquipmentPhone: (315) 437-8475       Fax: (315) 437-1029

Drum Handling Safety and Solutions

Correct procedures for handling
55-gallon steel, fiber and plastic drums

Safety Conscious drum handling solutions

Solve Your Drum Handling Problem
Drum Handling
Safety Tips
drum safety - steps to avoid injury
to help avoid injury

MORCINCH Options to handle a plastic drum, fiber drum, or a smaller drum


Stainless Steel 4-Wheel Drum Truck - Model 160-SS
Drum Trucks

Forklift attachment with battery power tilt to lift and pour drum up to 1500 Lb.
Forklift drum handlers



Risks of bare fork drum handlingRisks of handling a heavy
55-gallon (210 liter) drum

  • It can be hazardous to move a drum with your forklift
  • Have you seen people manually roll a drum on the bottom rim?
  • Ever see someone roll a drum down a makeshift ramp?
  • There's a better way to mix the contents of a drum than rolling it on the floor!

Identify the Hazards:

  • Drums too heavy for people to handle safely
  • Flexible plastic drums that are difficult to grip
  • Drums stored in tight spaces
  • Slippery, cluttered or uneven floors
  • Contents shifting in a partially full drum can make it difficult to control or even dangerous
  • Dangerous drum contents

Moving drums with hazardous contentsAddress the Issues
Educate employees

  • Acknowledge hazardous circumstances and procedures
  • Check MSDS of drum contents
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing, such as steel toe boots, gloves, safety glasses, etc.
  • Ensure proper lighting and adequate space in work areas
  • Provide the correct ergonomic equipment for safe handling of specific drums
  • Label forklifts as required by OSHA if drum handling attachments are used
  • Train employees on correct use of all drum handling equipment

Recommendations for drum handling safety. . .

Heavy drums should always be moved with proper drum handling equipment. Use a drum truck, forklift attachment, below-hook drum lifter or other equipment specifically designed for drum handling.

A full 55-gallon (210 liter) steel drum can weigh over 2,000 pounds (907kg), with typical weights of 400 to 800 Lb. (180 to 363 kg). When being moved, the contents of your drum may shift inside, making the drum difficult to control or even dangerous. There are also special considerations when handling a plastic drum or a fiber drum. Conditions such as restricted spaces and slippery or uneven floors can entail greater risks.

Mishandling a heavy drum can cause serious injury, damage the drum, waste valuable contents or contaminate the environment. Common injuries include a strained back, crushed fingers or hands, and foot trauma. Incidents of dropped drums, or drums rolling out of control, can also cause spills and damage.

Never Overload Your Drum Handler!

Overloaded Truck - Image by Ben Thompson
Image by Ben Thompson
Each Morse drum handler is designed to specific standards with engineered safety factors. . . but if someone exceeds the rated capacity, all bets are off! Under no circumstances should any modifications be made to Morse machinery without factory authorization. Each Morse model is designed to perform a specific job, and alterations may result in injury to operator or machine. Also, any modifications would void the warranty.

Engineered drum handling equipment is designed to handle specific types and sizes of drums, as listed in the Operator's Manual for each model. DO NOT attempt to handle any other type of drum or object.

DO NOT attempt to operate a damaged or malfunctioning drum handler, or one with missing parts.

Safety conscious procedures for Drum Handling
Always use protective clothing


Eliminate risk factors

Drum handling safety requires a systematic approach to eliminate all possible causes of injury. Take proper precautions if the drum contents are hazardous or flammable. Refer to your SDS for correct handling procedures. Always use appropriate protective clothing such as gloves, steel-toed shoes and eye protection. Environmental factors should be considered, such as adequate lighting and sufficient space to safely handle drums. Of course, cluttered, sloped or slippery floor surfaces increase the risks. Eliminate these conditions as much as possible, and clean up any spills. Replace any missing bungs or lids.

Always use proper equipment designed for the task when handling heavy drums. Train all employees in proper drum handling safety procedures and use of drum handling equipment.

People Just Sped by the Safety Barrels. . . Until They Saw the "Barrel Monster"

Barrel MonsterWe often ignore signs of danger because we're used to it, or that's "just how we do things."

Improper barrel handling practices lead to many workers being injured every year. Don't ignore the dangers of handling heavy barrels. Ensure your ergonomic and safety needs are met.

Read what happened to the creator of the "Barrel Monster"

Drum Handling Solutions
Drum Handling
Safety Tips

drum palletizer / drum spotter
Drum Palletizers

MORStak drum rackers - rack drums up to 8.5 feet high
Drum Rackers

Mobile drum handlers
Mobile drum handlers

Clamp+GO Dolly Handle
Safely pull or push drum
from the bottom of the drum,
instead of pushing at the top

Drum Tumblers
Drum Tumblers
Drum Tumblers mix the contents of a closed steel, plastic or fiber drum

Hydra-Lift drum mixers have power lift to take your drum from upright into rolling position
Drum Rollers
Drum Rollers to mix drum contents

Move Heavy Drums

  • Many drum handlers are available to safely move heavy steel, fiber and plastic drums
  • A partially filled drum may not seem heavy, but shifting contents can make it difficult to handle. It may roll unpredictably and be difficult to control. Handle it carefully to avoid damage and accidents.

Palletize Drums

Rack Drums

  • Moving drums with bare forks is NOT recommended. Use a drum racker designed for the job.
  • When drums are stored on their sides they should be cradled in a drum rack

Dump Drums

Move Empty Drums

  • Support the leaning drum with your thigh, and face it the way you will travel. Then roll the drum on its lower rim by rotating the upper rim hand over hand.
  • To lift an empty drum, squat, then straighten your legs. Do NOT bend your back. Correct posture and placement of hands and feet is essential when handling drums.
  • When rolling an empty drum on its side control it all the way, using your gloved hands. Never roll a drum out of a truck or past a blind corner without posting a guard.
  • Be alert for burred edges, lock rings and bungs that may catch your gloves or clothing and throw you off balance

Move Heavy Drums

  • Specially designed drum trucks are a much safer alternative for moving drums
  • A safer way to move drum dollies is with the Clamp+GO Dolly Handle, to pull at the level of the dolly, rather than push at the top of the drum
  • Drum moving forklift attachments are a great time saver for high volume drum applications, like loading and unloading trucks of drums

Mix Drum Contents

Mixing the contents of a closed drum avoids the hazards of worker exposure, possible contamination and messy cleanup. This can be accomplished with drum roller or drum tumbler. Choose a drum roller for gentle blending. Whereas a drum tumbler provides a more vigorous mix inside the drum.


Note: OSHA Requirement for enclosure with safety interlock IMPORTANT - OSHA holds the employer responsible for the suitability of design and application of tools and machinery.
Install all Morse Rotators in accordance with requirements for enclosure and safety interlock, etc. One way to accomplish this is with a Morse enclosure with safety interlock, so the rotator automatically turns off when enclosure door is opened. Power connections and motor controls must also comply with applicable local codes.

For OSHA compliance in the USA, see OSHA subpart O.1910.212(a)(4) "Barrels, containers, and drums. Revolving drums, barrels, and containers shall be guarded by an enclosure which is interlocked with the drive mechanism, so that the barrel, drum, or container cannot revolve unless the guard enclosure is in place."

If need to solve a drum handling problem, please email us or call (315) 437-8475 to speak with a Morse professional about the correct drum handling safety for your application.


Updated 05 Mar 2019


Drum handling safety and solutions. Correct procedures for handling 55-gallon (210 liter) steel, fiber and plastic drums.