Moving bulk items in bags can be a dangerous business, as some of them, when fully loaded, can way nearly a quarter of a tonne. There are specific guidelines set out by the Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container Association (FIBCA) that should be adhered to.
Following these guidelines, along with manufacturer’s recommendations, will help to ensure that you minimise the risk of accidents, injuries and, in the worse cases, deaths in your business.
So, what sort of practices should you follow when moving bulk bags with forklifts, cranes and hoists?
One of the first things to ensure is that the equipment you are using isn’t damaged in any way. This includes the bag itself. Industrial packaging is generally made from hard wearing and durable material, but it can still get damaged and if you don’t notice it before you start to move it, the contents can easily spill out and cause harm, particularly if you’re moving it at a height. Your forklift, crane or hoist should also be well-maintained and regularly serviced to ensure that it doesn’t break down or become faulty mid-move.
The equipment you’re using also need to be the right type for the job and be able to handle the weight that you’re about to attempt lifting. Check that there aren’t any sharp edges or tines that could damage the industrial packaging too.
The person operating your forklift, crane or hoist should have received the correct training, and hold the relevant certification where necessary, and be provided with appropriate safety clothing. All personnel, other than the operator, should be clear of the site before the move begins. This will ensure that the operator can fully concentrate on the move itself without being distracted by others, but it also ensures that if a bag splits and the contents fall out, they aren’t going to land on anyone standing underneath.
All bags and industrial packaging have loops and sleeves in specific places that are most suitable for lifting them and its important to ensure that forklift tines are set at the correct distance for the bag in question. If the bag needs to be on a pallet for storage, then the pallet itself should be the right size and be able to support the weight of the bag.
If you’re using a forklift, it should be static before the lifting process begins and the lift itself should be smooth and steady, with the bag held as close to the mast as possible and at a safe angle.
In short, never used damaged bags, lift bulk items with only one bag loop if there are two, let personnel stand or place any part of their body under bags which are suspended in the air or allow the bulk items to come into contact with any moving parts of forklift, crane or hoist, such as the wheels on a forklift. Always ensure that you’re using the right equipment for the right job and that personnel have the right training to operate it.
Following these simple guidelines will help to make sure that your operation runs as smoothly and safely as possible.