From The Ergoweb® Learning Center


Dan MacLeod, CPE, MA, MPH
Shoveling Bending
Heavy work shoveling materials by hand Bending to scoop out materials by hand

Principles affected

Related pages

Material handling


Many materials in containers are shoveled or scooped out by hand using methods that are simultaneously harmful and excessively slow. Often in these circumstances it would be much easier and faster to dump the materials.

Ideas and Options

Low cost manual

DumpBefore DumpAfter
Before: Static dumping position After: Simple homemade dumping stand

This example shows a homemade dumper stand in a chemical operation. The task involves lifting a small container of liquid to a high position several times per day to slowly pour a small amount into a processing machine. The container is not particularly heavy, but involves staying in an awkward position for a few minutes, making it difficult to pour precise amounts and causing shoulder pain. The stand still requires manual pouring, but the weight is supported and the frame provides stability and the extra leverage makes it easier to control.

Down position

The stand needs to be lowered to the floor and raised back up manually, but it can be done by tipping, using the stand itself for leverage. The chemical container must be lifted into the cylindrical holder, but is acceptable for the circumstances.

Low-cost hoist style

BarrelHoist V
Hoist-based barrel dumper ( Hoist for dumping large chip spinner

Standard hoists can be used to lift containers and, with the use of various adapters, used for dumping. The exertion is completely eliminated, but the employee still operates the equipment manually. There must be overhead clearance and loads must be handled carefully when suspended.

HoistLow HoistHigh
Hoist-based dumper — Hopper in low position for loading View from different angle — Hopper in high position for dumping


This hoist-based dumper was fabricated in-house at relatively low cost. A frame supports the hoist and stabilizes the hopper. A vibrator is attached to the chute to help the flow of this particular material when dumping.  See more details on this device.

Forklift mounted

Forklift RotatingJaws
Forklift dumper attachment (Vestil) Rotating jaws

Forklift attachments provide a relatively inexpensive method for dumping, although there is a range of costs (and capabilities). Forklift-mounted dumpers are common in industry, available from many vendors and in multiple configurations and designs

Scrap cart at floor level (Vestil) Dumping position, when raised by lift truck

This example shows one of the many types of forklift dumpers available on the market. Features include a low profile to place under machine tools,  handle for manual handling, slots for lift truck forks, and hinged dumping apparatus.


BaseRings ForksBase
Rings added to cart base Forks in place in rings and under cart

This example shows a very low cost modification to a scrap cart that enable it to be dumped by a lift truck. The photos show how rings were welded onto the base so that the forklift can securely lift the container.

Raised Tipped
Raised to dump into larger container Tipped (manually) to dump

The forklift truck raises the scrap to a high level then the dumper is manually pushed over. The rings keep the container from falling into the large dumpster.

Self-dumping portable systems

ChipDumper1 ChipDumper2
Chip dumpers

Stand-alone styles of dumpers like these are common in machining operations and for trash in general. Many brands and styles are available.

Transporter1 Transporter2
Self-contained transporter-dumper (

This dumper is based on a lifter-transporter and thus can be easily moved to pick up containers and bring to the dumping station. Furthermore they raise the containers up (fairly high) for dumping.

Standard power dumpers

Powered CartDumper
Typical powered stationary dumper Cart dumper (hamper-style carts)

Large power dumpers provide a more high-end option and again are common throughout industry. These versions are fully automated so that once the loader is filled, a push of a button triggers the full dumping cycle.

Manipulator arm

Manipulator arm dumper (

Manipulator arms [future link] provide an excellent approach to handling and dumping. They can easily be integrated into production work areas and do not require overhead clearance at the point of use. Arms like these are becoming increasingly common for dumping and multiple other uses.

Column dumper

Column dumper (

Column lifts are commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry for adding ingredients to mixers and processing equipment. They are also commonly used in the meat industries to dump cartloads of meat into grinders and similar equipment. Because of the small footprint, the design may have application in general industry.

Vehicle style

Vehicle1 Vehickle2 Vehickle3

An internet search for “mini-dumpers” and “powered wheelbarrows” yields multiple examples of self-propelled dumpers. These units are primarily designed for outdoor and construction use, but they are sufficiently compact for in-plant use.