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MMH - Drums and Barrels

How should drums and barrels be lifted?

Handling drums and barrels can be dangerous. Do not handle drums and barrels without training. Use lifting equipment or assistance devices whenever possible.


How should a drum be raised from the ground?

Use mechanical aids whenever possible. Do not attempt to raise a full drum alone.

  • Make sure that the drum is empty before raising it.
  • Stand at the end of the drum.
  • Place one foot forward at the side of the drum, the other behind.
  • Bend your hips and knees.
  • Keep the back straight.
  • Grasp the rim about 15 cm from the ground with the elbows inside thighs.
  • Stand up by thrusting off with the back leg and continuing in an upward and forward direction.
  • Bring the back leg forward as if you are walking. Keep close to the drum.
  • Stop at the balance point to change hand grip.
  • Set the drum on its base by moving back leg forward. Use the body weight as a counter balance.
Stand up by thrusting off with the back leg
Set the drum on its base

How should a two-person lift be done?

  • Use two people to lift a full drum.
  • Use the same technique as with one person, but have two people squatting at either side of the drum.
Two people lifting drum

How should a standing drum be moved?

  • Stand close to the drum with feet apart. One foot at the front and the other behind.
  • Keep knees slightly flexed.
  • Put your hands firmly against upper rim of the drum.
  • Keep arms straight with the elbows "locked".
  • Rock the drum gently to get the feel of its contents before you move it.
  • Push the top of the drum away by extending the back leg and shifting your body weight onto your front leg.
  • Stop tilting the drum at the balance point. Use back leg as a counter balance.
Stand close to the drum with feet apart
Rock the drum gently to get the feel of its contents
  • Use a drum-tilting lever for up-ending filled drums that reduces the effort required to move such drums manually.
Drum tilting lever
  • Use a tilting drum stand to move emptied barrels and drums.
Tilting drum stand

Should drums be lifted manually when they are stacked?

No. Always use cranes or lift trucks to stack drums.

Document last updated on October 8, 2009
Document confirmed current on October 7, 2013

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Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.