From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Drum/Barrel Handling

Dan MacLeod, CPE, MA, MPH

Drum1 Drum2
Heavy, hard to hold, hard to maneuver

Principles affected

Related pages

Material handling


There are two interrelated issues: (1) moving and (2) pouring. Both can be time consuming and create heavy loads on back, shoulders, and hands.

Fortunately, a wide variety of equipment options are available on the market, provided by a multitude of vendors. Many are designed to both move and pour, but there are additional options that provide only one function.

Ideas and Options

Moving/pouring combined

Specialized lifter-transporters

Specialized1 Specialized2 Specialized2



A versatile approach is to use a lifter-transporter with an end-effector that is designed for drum handling. Movement across the floor is manual push, but the lifting and pouring mechanisms are powered. Depending on the unit, you can pour either forward or sideways.

Vendors include:, and

“Walkie” drum handler

“Walkie” units are completely powered, including movement across the floor. Pouring direction can be either forward or sideways depending on the unit.

Manual mover/pourers

There are a large number of manual devices available on the market that both move and pour. They are less expensive than the powered versions, but can sometimes take some effort to use, plus they only allow pouring at floor level.

Forklift adapters, manual


A wide variety of manual adapters are available for forklift trucks, including booms, hooks, and slings.

Forklift adapters, powered

Powered adapters can also be used on forklift trucks. Drivers manipulate the drums from controls inside the cab.


Drum transporters

A number of vendors provide devices that are specially designed for transporting drums. Vendors include, and others linked on this page.

Drum hand trucks

Variants of manual hand trucks are designed especially for handling drums.


In some cases, slides can be used.


Tipping stand

Tipper stand Tipping hook

A low-cost option is to fabricate a stand (above left) to serve as a fulcrum or support for manual pouring. Similarly, the tipping hook mechanism (above right) from a chuckwagon coffee pot can be adapted for some industrial settings.

Drum cradle

A variety of cradles are available to reposition drums from upright to horizontal to enable pouring. These devices are similar to the hand trucks and manual mover/pourers described above, put are designed primarily for repositioning for pouring, rather than transport.


Manipulator arms


Hand pumps

Power pumps