8 Dangerous Risks of Drum Handling


Any facility that handles materials poses serious occupational risks, especially drum handling warehouses.

A standard 55-gallon drum can weigh up to 208 kg!

That kind of weight can be strenuous for manual transport, decanting or any type of handling. 

Raising risks is one thing but it is also inefficient to manually handle drums that could be resolved with the correct drum handling equipment.

Read: How to Choose the Right Drum Handling Equipment

Handling industrial drums the safe way needs more awareness among those working with drums. 

The way to do that is to pinpoint all the risks handling drums can bring. 

The Dangers of Drum Handling

Material handling equipment generally carries their own risks individually.

Handling drums is much more unique than the standard pallets warehouses use. 

Here are several common drum handling problems that can occur:  

Dangerous Risks of Drum Handling:

  1. Unsafe for manual handling
  2. Different sizes and shapes of drums
  3. Confined spaces
  4. Unorganized storage space
  5. Unsafe flooring
  6. Imbalanced drums
  7. Hazardous material leakage
  8. Over-exertion and musculoskeletal strain

1. Manual Drum Handling

Did we mention that a full drum weighs about 208kg? That’s like 3 times the weight of an average man!

No way manual handling is safe for a full drum. 

Whereas, an empty drum weight is about 20kg.

It’s clear here that empty drums are the safest to be handled manually.

2. Different Sizes and Shapes of Drums

If you work in the chemical industry, you know how many types of drums there are. 

Metal drums, plastic drums, Jerry cans, IBC tanks and more. How to handle them is a head-scratcher!

So identify the type of drums you have first before you go and purchase your drum handling equipment. 

3. Drum Handling in Confined Spaces

No matter how organized you think your warehouse is, some places may be too confined for drum handling equipment or even manual handling. 

So consider this first before you go ahead and buy a Forklift Drum Positioner or a Semi Electric Drum Handler that needs a wider space to operate.

4. Organized Storage Space for Drum Handling

Bad housekeeping is never good anywhere. Especially at a place where productivity and efficiency should be top-tier. 

Storing drums in a disorderly manner can be resolved by using the right drum handling equipment like the Drum Handler.

It can transport, lift and tilt industrial drums with minimal operation. 

5. Unsafe Flooring Unfit for Drum Handling

Even if you’re not drum handling, every facility must have safe flooring. It’s a regulatory issue. 

But if you do have bumpy floors, potholes and the like, don’t blame your workers if any of your inventory is damaged. 

6. Imbalanced Drums

Not all drums have the same liquid quantity. Full or empty drums are easiest to handle because of their fixed volume. 

When a drum is partially filled, handling it manually is very dangerous and unstable

This is due to the moving contents in the container. So opt for a stable drum mover like an Overhead Drum Lifter, Drum Porter and a Forklift Drum Rotator.

7. Hazardous Material Leakage

Imagine if your employees are transporting hazardous chemicals or using a drum decanting trolley, any minor damage can cause the drums to leak. 

It could be due to manufacturing defects, accidents during transport or external factors. 

This can impact your stock and supply. Don’t cry over spilled chemicals. 

Make sure all rules and regulations are followed biblically to avoid any shortage in inventory (and your money).

8. Over-exertion and Musculoskeletal Strain

There’s no denying how exhaustive it is to manually handle drums.

Your workers will experience severe burnout and strain if the correct procedures aren’t properly followed.

Visit the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) Malaysia for detailed occupational safety procedures that you must follow. It’s all in there. 

Drum Roll, Please.

It’s important to know exactly what type of risks drum handling can cause be it manually or not.

Once all potential perils have been acknowledged, then you’ll know what you should do to resolve them.

Stuck choosing which? Call us up and we’ll help decide which best suits you.

Looking for other handling equipment? Read 7 tips to choose the perfect handling equipment before you make your purchase.

Or contact our friendly customer service team for more customized options.


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