FIBCs, or flexible intermediate bulk containers, are classified as “intermediate” because of their size and ability to accommodate filled weights between 500 and 4000 pounds. Because of the weight of these bags and their other capabilities, such as carrying hazardous materials and preventing electrostatic shock, practicing safe handling of these bags is incredibly important. When you use safe practices and follow proper handing guidelines, you ensure the quality of the bag endures, your product is stored and protected securely, and your employees and customers are protected.
Here are a few safety tips we think everyone who comes in contact with a bulk bag should know.
TIP 1: Know the different fabric electrostatic classifications.
- Type A: No electrostatic protection
- Type B: Anti-static coating for surface breakdown to prevent a spark
- Type C: Electrically conductive or electrically groundable
- Type D: Static dissipative or antistatic
TIP 2: Know the safety regulations for bulk bags and transporting hazardous materials.
According to the United Nations, hazardous materials and dangerous goods include any product, ingredient or substance that poses a health, safety or property risk when transported. Dangerous Goods include things that are explosive, radioactive, flammable, dangerous, volatile and poisonous and must be transported following the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.
When using FIBCs to transport these goods, you must use a UN Certified bulk bag to enable safe work conditions.
UN Certified bulk bags are made and tested specifically to the United Nations’ standards for transporting and storing hazardous materials. The testing is rigorous to ensure each bag can protect users from fire, explosion, chemical burns, toxic contamination or environmental damage.
TIP 3: When suspending or lifting your FIBC, always use all lift loops or sleeves.
Never suspend an FIBC using fewer lift loops, sleeves, etc., than have been provided. This includes gathering the loops on one hook (unless specified by the manufacturer). It is also important that all loops are vertical and not twisted.
If you need to customize your bags to fit your machinery, such as bulk bag unloaders, talk to your bulk bag consultant. There are a few options for bulk bag loop customizations for bulk bag handling:
Bonus: When lifting bulk bags, it is easier to direct the forklift forks into the loops when you approach the bag straight forward rather than from an angle, aligning the centers of the front and back loops with each fork.
TIP 4: Store empty FIBCs in a clean, covered area.
When you receive in a shipment of bulk bags, make a clean, dry space for them; preferably out of the sun. Make sure the area is clean of nails, other sharp objects and contaminants. This will ensure the bags are protected from extreme weather, too much sunlight or other hazards that may impede the durability and longevity of the bag. (This would be a great place for information about our corrugated pallets. Let’s discuss.)
To aid in keeping your pallets protected from contamination, consider using corrugated paper pallets over wood pallets. Learn more about the benefits of paper pallets over wooden pallets for your FIBC handling here.
You can store your bulk bags outside, but they may degrade from prolonged UV exposure. Standard bag fabric does have UV inhibitors added but this does not last indefinitely. We side with FIBCA’s suggestion to store your bulk bags inside.
TIP 5: When stacking your filled bulk bags, follow FIBCA’s guidelines for stacking methods.
You should only stack FIBCs according to their design to assure stability and safety. Manufacturers will clearly state if stacking is safe and appropriate and, if so, what stacking method should be practiced. The two stacking methods are “pyramid” or “supported.”
- Pyramid stacking means each bag above the first layer must sit on at least four lower bags, creating a pyramid.
- Supported Stacking means bags are stacked against two retaining walls of sufficient strength.
Check your FIBCs to confirm how tall they are certified to be stacked. There are even specialized bulk bag pallets made to help ensure stability when stacking. If you need guidance on safety measures for stacking your bulk bags, our FIBC experts can help assess your environment and give guidance on what safety standards are applicable to you.
These are just a few of our top bulk bag safety tips. To see all of our tips, click below to download our Ultimate Guide to FIBC Safety.
Tags: Flexible Packaging