Drum Handling Safety: The Intro

If you’re an employee (or business owner) that’s working around barrels and drums, it’s extremely important that you handle and move them safely. I’ll admit one thing – at first, it doesn’t seem like there’s too much to this process. If the barrel or drum is light, you can have a person or two move it manually, right? And if it’s not, you just use a forklift, right? Incorrect. Now this may sound like a movie, but it’s true; if a drum or barrel contains highly toxic or flammable liquid and something goes wrong, you could be seriously injured or killed. And that includes explosions. Make sure that before working around large barrels and drums, you have proper training. There are lengthy manuals and entire courses on this topic. Let this article serve as a a guide to get you thinking.

Note The Hazards

As with any procedure in a warehouse or work site, it’s important to note the possible hazards before, well, even really touching the drum. In this case, we want to watch out for a handful of things. First things first – the contents of the drum. Toxic? Flammable? That will require extra care, and you’ll usually need a health specialist to investigate. Next, you want to know the weight. Some of these drums can weight 2,000 pounds. And always be extra careful of a drum filled with contents that can move around. The weight could shift while you’re moving it and put you in greater danger. Then, beware of your work area. Any wet floors and tight spaces will be an obvious issue (or how about that snow in the picture above?) – but also, don’t forget about sweaty hands, loose clothing, long hair, etc.

Opening a Drum

This task can sometimes be tedious, but necessary, and it always takes careful planning and research. When you’re ready to open a drum, make sure that no unnecessary people are standing near it. Then, make sure you know the proper way to open the drum. Never use anything like a pick or a firearm to open a drum. Then, ask yourself some important questions. Does the drum pressure need to be relieved? Do you have the proper monitoring equipment? Make sure you know what you’re doing when the drum is open, and then how to properly dispose of it or reseal it. Always decontaminate any equipment when you’re done.

Moving a Drum

The truth is, there’s not a universal way to move a drum or barrel. And if it’s an avoidable task, then by all means, avoid it. The first rule, however, should always be that the right people will be moving the drum. After that, it all depends. You could use a drum racker, a drum handler, a forklift with a drum carrier attachment, a drum truck, and more. It all depends on what’s best for a certain drum at a certain time. Always make sure you’re using the proper equipment, or you’re putting yourself at a very high level of danger. There should be no short-cutting when it comes to this process.

As I mentioned before, there’s a lot to learn about the drum and barrel handling/moving process. Always make sure you’re trained properly. If you aren’t, never attempt to figure out this process yourself.  Always make sure you know what you should do in the case of an emergency.

Eric is the owner of J&L Moving Supplies. You can find him on , Facebook or Twitter, so be sure to connect with him!