20 June 2023

All You Need to Know about Using Bulk Bags Safely

Are you using bulk bags for storage and handling? Concerned about the safety of moving, lifting, filling and unloading these bad boys?


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What are the Pros and Cons of Bulk Bags?

We understand your concerns. And we’re on your side when it comes to managing workplace hazards.

Hey, learning from your mistakes is a great principle, but not when it comes to bulk bags: when you’re dealing with up to a ton of products, you simply can’t afford to make mistakes! So, if you’re using this type of storage in your business, it’s important that you and your team understand and follow the correct safe work procedures at all times.

Let’s get straight down to business and look at the risks posed by bulk bags, and ways that you can minimize those risks and protect yourself and your team from harm.

Like everything else, there are advantages and disadvantages of bulk bags.

Cons of Bulk Bags

  • Limited Durability

In plain language, bulk bags don’t last forever. While they are designed to stand up to the regular demands of transportation and storage, they do have some limitations in terms of durability: rough handling, exposure to sharp objects, or excessive weight can lead to tears, punctures or seam failures.

  • Compatibility Issues

Certain materials may not be compatible with bulk bags due to their chemical properties or specific handling requirements. For example, substances that are reactive, corrosive or pose a risk of contamination might require alternative packaging options.

To avoid potential hazards or product damage, it is your responsibility to thoroughly evaluate the compatibility of your materials before you load them into bulk bags.

  • Cleaning & Maintenance

Depending on the materials being transported or stored, bulk bags may require cleaning and maintenance to maintain their integrity and prevent cross-contamination.

This can involve removing residue, drying, or disinfecting the bags between uses.

  • Bulkiness and Storage Constraints

While they offer a certain degree of storage efficiency, the sheer size of a bulk bag and the room it takes up can present challenges in some environments.

Limited space or narrow access points may restrict the use of bulk bags, making them a bad choice for some operations.

Depending on what you’re storing in your bulk bags, bag stacking may or may not be an option. Be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions before stacking your bulk bags.

  • Not Waterproof

One of the main disadvantages of bulk bags is that they’re generally not waterproof. The woven fibers make them breathable, which is a great option for some products, however, water can soak into them from the outside and make the contents damp.

Pros of Bulk Bags

  • Cost-Effectiveness

One of the most significant advantages of bulk bags is their cost-effectiveness. Compared with rigid containers such as drums or boxes, bulk bags offer a more affordable solution for transporting and storing large quantities of materials.

Their lightweight design allows for reduced shipping costs and they can often be stacked, maximizing storage space and reducing handling expenses.

  • Storage Efficiency

Bulk bags are designed to optimize storage efficiency. They’re flexible, which enables them to conform to the available space, allowing for maximum utilization of warehouse or storage areas.

When they’re empty, they can be collapsed and stacked, which means they take up a minimum storage area. This space-saving feature is particularly important if your operation has limited storage capacity.

  • Versatility

Bulk bags are highly versatile and suitable for transporting and storing a wide range of materials, including granular or powdered substances, agricultural products, chemicals or construction materials.

Their adaptability makes them an excellent choice for industries with diverse product lines, successfully eliminating the need for different containers for different materials.

  • Easy Handling

Handling bulk bags is relatively straightforward, thanks to their standardized design and built-in lifting points. They can be easily lifted and transported using a forklift or crane.

The simplicity of handling bulk bags may increase operational efficiency in your business.

  • Environmental Benefits

In recent years, there has been a lot of emphasis put on environmental responsibility and sustainable business practices. Bulk bags contribute to this cause by reducing packaging waste: they are reusable and recyclable and minimize the need for single-use packaging products.

Are Bulk Bags Dangerous?

We’re not going to sugar-coat it: like every other industrial equipment, if they aren’t handled correctly, bulk bags can pose serious safety issues. And unfortunately, there have been some tragic accidents involving the use of bulk bags.

However, if they are used and maintained correctly, your bulk bags can be a safe and efficient method of storing and transporting products.

Here are a few of the common oversights that lead to accidents with bulk bags:

  • Overloading and unbalanced loads - overloading the bag or failing to distribute the weight evenly within the bag can lead to instability during lifting or transportation. This can result in the bag tipping over, causing injuries to workers or damage to the product.
  • Failure of bag integrity - if the bags are damaged, have tears or are used beyond their recommended lifespan, they can fail unexpectedly.
  • Improper lifting and handling - inadequate training or improper use of lifting equipment can lead to accidents when handling bulk bags. If the lifting points or hooks are not securely attached, or if the bags are not properly balanced before they are lifted or transported, they can fall, causing injuries to workers and/or damage to equipment and product.
  • Compatibility issues - filling bulk bags with incompatible materials can result in chemical reactions, contamination or deterioration of the bag.
  • Environmental factors - handling bulk bags in extreme weather conditions can be hazardous: high winds, rain or slippery surfaces can increase the risk of accidents, especially during lifting or transportation operations.
  • Inadequate support while filling - if the bags aren’t properly supported during filling, they may topple.

Safe Filling, Unloading & Lifting of Bulk Bags

Filling and unloading bulk bags requires attention to detail. It is important to ensure that all staff involved in these processes are well-versed in the dangers associated with these activities, and that safe work practices are put into place and adhered to.

Dangers to be Aware of When Filling Bags

Adequate Support

Your bulk bags must have adequate support during the filling process. This may be achieved using a purpose-built filling frame, which is engineered to support the entire weight of the bag when it is suspended.

Dust and Inhalation Risks

Filling bulk bags with fine powders or dusty materials can pose respiratory hazards. Inhalation of airborne particles can lead to respiratory issues, allergies or other health complications. Dust accumulation around the filling area also increases the risk of slip-and-fall accidents, fire hazards and equipment malfunctions.

To mitigate these risks, it is important to follow safe filling practices, including proper weight monitoring, using adequate dust control measures and wearing personal protective equipment.

Dangers to be Aware of When Unloading Bags

It’s no secret that a high proportion of accidents involving bulk bags happen during the discharging process.

The concept of standing to the side of the suspended bag and cutting the bottom of the bag open with a knife is not uncommon, however, it can be dangerous. If you or your workers are required to reach underneath the bag to perform this operation, it’s time you invested in some specialized bag discharging equipment.

What is a Reaper Knife?

A reaper knife is a sharp, curved blade that is mounted to a long pole. The long handle allows the user to rip open the base of the bag without having to put any part of his/her body beneath the suspended bag.


What is a Bag Splitter?

A Bag Splitter is a specialized blade that is fitted to the top of your Jacky Bin, onto which the suspended bulk bag is lowered. The weight of the product as it is lowered causes the blade to cut the base of the bag open, and the product is discharged into your Jacky Bin.

Regular equipment maintenance, inspections and compliance with safety regulations are crucial to ensuring a safe working environment during bulk bag filling and unloading operations.

Dangers to be Aware of When Lifting/Transporting Bags

Safe work practices are essential when lifting and/or transporting full bulk bags. Here are a few key points to follow:

Inspect the bags and equipment: regularly inspect your bulk bags for any signs of damage including tears, punctures, or worn-out lifting straps/loops. Inspect your lifting/transporting equipment regularly too, checking for signs of wear and tear or malfunctioning.

Follow the Weight Limits: always adhere to the recommended weight limits of both your bulk bags and your lifting/transportation equipment.

Communication & Teamwork: establish a clear system of communication between all personnel involved in the lifting/transportation operation. Ensure that all members are aware of their roles and responsibilities.

Distribute Weight Evenly: to maintain balance and stability during lifting/transporting, ensure that the weight within the bulk bag is evenly distributed. Position the lifting attachments correctly to avoid tilting or swinging of the bag.

Maintain a Clear Line of Sight: the person operating the lifting/transportation equipment must always maintain a clear line of sight.

Remember, as a business owner, it is your responsibility to provide your staff with adequate training on safe lifting practices, including the use of equipment. But we’re here to help.

At Orion, we care about your safety and the safety of your team. And that’s why we’re out there, prepared to get down and dirty, to supply innovative solutions for storage and handling issues faced by everyday workers in Australia and abroad.

We listen. We observe.

And we design products that get results.

Want to know more about safe handling of bulk bags? Call us today on 1800 752 784 or flick us a message here and we’ll be in touch soon!