Every year, more than 500 million bulk bags, or flexible intermediate bulk containers commonly known as (FIBCs) or Bulk Bags, Mega Bags or SuperSacks are used around the world. These bags are used to transport a wide variety of solid materials that you see and use every day. Here at BWI, in partnership with our overseas partners, we design bulk bags to handle materials like fertilizer, food, aggregates, construction materials, dangerous waste, and more.

FIBCA, the Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container Association, was created to deal with regulatory bodies that controlled the shipment of products. They want to ensure that FIBCs used for essential materials are filled, emptied, stored, and shipped safely. To educate the public, FIBCA has put together Safe Handling Guidelines to address some common situations. In this blog post, we’ll be explaining the handling of FIBCs by forklifts, cranes, and hoists. For a full set of guidelines, please visit fibca.com.
The Basics
Before handling a FIBC, you will need to ensure that all devices are suitable for FIBCs. They also need to have safety latches, be rated for the capacity of the filled bag, and adhere to approved handling methods. Use a forklift, crane, or hoist with a rated capacity of the filled FIBC. All handling devices, such as forklift tines, crane hooks, or bars, must be free of sharp edges and protrusions. This will keep the FIBC loops from ripping. Edges must be rounded and have a radius of 5mm or greater. You will need to remember these critical points when handling FIBCs by forklift, crane, or hoist. Don’t forget to stick to the other applicable regulations, standards, and supplier recommendations. Please consult your FIBC supplier regarding your specific application and handling environment. The government or OH&S Canada do not control or regulate the usage of single-trip packaging. Because of the lack of involvement, third parties such as FIBCA find it necessary to help educate suppliers, manufacturers & end-users.
First, let’s start with some safe handling guidelines when using a forklift. Never suspend an FIBC using fewer lift loops or sleeves than the FIBC has. The distance between the forklift tines must be adjusted to the correct width. Ensure all lift loops or sleeves are vertical to prevent damaging the bulk bag and the forklift. Always ensure that any pallets used are free of nails or protrusions that could damage the FIBC. Assure the pallet is sized so the FIBC doesn’t hang over the sides unless it’s designed and approved to do so by the manufacturer. Maintain a clear line of sight when moving an FIBC. Never move an FIBC if your line of sight is blocked. When handling by forklift, hold the FIBC close to the mast and as low as possible without touching the floor. Never drag or push an FIBC, and keep clear of the forklift wheels. Ensure the mast is tilted back and never forward. Avoid sudden lifts and stops. Never lift an FIBC using fewer loops or sleeves than have been provided. Stop the forklift before raising or lowering the FIBC. Never remove the forklift tines without first removing the load from the loops or sleeves.
Cranes & Hoists
Second, let’s cover some safe handling guidelines when using cranes and hoists. Never suspend an FIBC using fewer lift loops or sleeves than provided. Never gather loops to lift with one hook unless your FIBC is designed to do so. If you’re lifting with one hook, slings or other lifting devices must be used to keep the loops vertical to prevent damage. Slings and all other lift loops must also be used if you need to correct an FIBC that has tipped over. Regardless of how you handle your FIBCs, never allow personnel to stand or place any appendage under a suspended FIBC. All personnel must always be safely clear of any potential hazards. If you’re using Type C FIBCs, you’ll need to address any electrostatic concerns before handling. Ensure handling devices used for grounding are clear of any substances that might interfere with the connection of FIBC lift loops. These substances include paint, oil, dust, and more. Consult your supplier, the International Electrotechnical Commission, and experts in the field.
Thanks for reading!
Here at BWI, the safety of our customers is our top priority. Regardless of who you purchase FIBCs from, it is important to use your bulk bags with care and for their intended purposes.
We hope these guidelines will assist in making your handling of forklifts, cranes, and hoists safe and incident-free.
As the leading manufacturer in Canada since 2005, BWI can recommend the best package option for you! For more information, best practices, and product services, visit us at www.BWI-1.com or call 1.403.720.6229.