February 3rd, 2014
Posted by Zachary | No Comments »

Drum Handling Safety

Updated 9/7/2021

Staying Safe When Handling Industrial Drums

Industrial drums of any size pose a significant workplace risk for anyone employed in warehousing or material handling occupations.  With the average 55-gallon drum weighing between 400-600 lbs depending on the drum contents; manually transporting, decanting or otherwise handling drums is not only physically demanding, but a potentially dangerous task for any worker.  Manual handling of drums is not only a potential  safety hazard for employees but an inefficient method of accomplishing most industrial drum handling applications.  As with all potentially dangerous occupations, however, these risks can be managed through a combination of the appropriate equipment and proper safety procedures. Safe handling of industrial drums also requires not only awareness but ongoing education around the hazards faced by those working with industrial drums. In this article, we offer a quick overview of drum handling safety tips to increase workplace safety.

Risk Factors

Material handling situations all carry their own risk factors unique to each application which is why it is important to always handle drums as safely as possible. Taking the time to assess the challenges associated with any job is an essential first step in managing them. Some of the common safety hazards associated with industrial drum handling include:

  • Heavy drums that can’t be handled manually.
  • The size and shape of industrial drums makes even the lightest or even empty drums unwieldy to handle manually
  • Confined spaces in which workers are unable to use forklifts or other material handling equipment
  • Storage of drums in restricted spaces where worker range of motion is severely restricted.
  • Unsafe floor conditions in which slipperiness, clutter or uneven surfaces are safety hazards that can cause trips or falls.
  • Half-filled drums that have the potential to shift their weight while in transport.
  • Hazardous materials that can leak out of improperly sealed drums.
  • High volumes of industrial drums, even when done safely, can lead to overexertion and musculoskeletal strain associated from manual handling


Potential Complications and Management Techniques

Improper handling of industrial drums can have a number of both long and short term consequences, including, death, disfigurement, chemical burns, musculoskeletal injuries and disorders related to overexertion strain. While different applications require different risk-reduction strategies, the following techniques are common to almost all work environments:

  • Environmental management: A clean workspace is a safe workspace. Keep work areas free of dust and clutter. Make sure spaces are well-lit, and install ramps or other accessibility solutions as necessary for workplace safety.
  • Protective clothing: Proper work gloves, headgear and footwear are essential when handling industrial drums. Ensure that any employees on the floor have access to appropriate protective clothing.
  • Hazardous material labeling: Always read MSDS and other product information. Use the recommended containment strategies in the event of a spill or accidental exposure.
  • Proper Equipment:  Ensure that workers are provided with and trained on equipment that enables them to handle industrial drums safely and efficiently.

Ergonomic Drum Handling Equipment

An important aspect of risk management is having the right equipment for the job and knowing how to use it properly. Easy Lift Equipment offers a number of products designed to increase on-the-job safety levels when handling industrial drums.  Our ergonomic drum handling equipment is designed specifically for all drum handling applications including; transporting drums, loading or unloading trailers, weighing drums, or dumping and dispensing drums. From drum-handling forklift attachments, to ergonomic drum transporters and self-propelled dumpers, we manufacture a full selection of equipment that reduces the risks of injury associated with any drum handling application. Hopefully you found these drum handling safety tips useful. Contact our team directly for help choosing the product that’s right for you.


Easy Lift Equipment




1 (800) 233 – 1800

1 (302) 737 – 7000

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