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
to help avoid injury
Risks 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
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
- 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,
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
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!
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
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
Mobile drum handlers
Safely pull or push drum
from the bottom of the
instead of pushing at the top
Drum Tumblers mix the contents of a
closed steel, plastic or fiber drum
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.
- 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
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
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.
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
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.
05 Mar 2019
Drum handling safety and solutions. Correct procedures for handling 55-gallon
(210 liter) steel, fiber and plastic drums.