Each year, over 500 million flexible intermediate bulk containers, more commonly known as FIBCs or bulk bags, are used around the world. Used to transfer a large variety of materials, bulk bags carry items 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. FIBCA is committed to educating the public on the benefits, uses, correct handling methods for bulk bags, and much more. To address some common situations, they have put together Safe Handling Guidelines. In this blog post, we’ll be focusing on the key points related to the filling and emptying of FIBCs. For a full set of guidelines, please visit fibca.com.
The Basics of Filling and Emptying FIBCs
Before filling an FIBC, you need to ensure that it’s approved for the product, like hazardous materials, food, or pharmaceuticals. You also need to ensure it’s appropriate for the filling and emptying environment, considering things like electrostatic concerns in flammable or explosive environments. Any electrostatic concerns must be addressed before filling or emptying an FIBC. You’ll need to consult your FIBC supplier, the current IEC standard, and experts in the field. Don’t forget to adhere to all other applicable regulations, standards, and supplier recommendations.
Before handling an FIBC, verify the bottom discharge spout is closed correctly prior to filling the FIBC. Closed correctly means according to the FIBC manufacturer’s instructions. All devices must be designed for FIBCs, have safety latches, are rated for the capacity of the filled FIBC, and adhere to approved handling methods. Handling devices such as forklift tines, crane hooks, and bars must be free of sharp edges or protrusions. Edges must be rounded to at least the thickness of the lift loops or sleeves used to support the FIBC. The radius must be 5mm or greater.
Critical Steps for Filling and Emptying FIBCs
When you’re sure you have the right FIBC and the right equipment, you’ll need to remember these seven critical points when filling and emptying FIBCs.
- Never suspend an FIBC using fewer lift loops or sleeves than have been provided.
- Never gather loops to lift with one hook, unless your FIBC is specifically designed and approved by the manufacturer for doing so.
- If you’re lifting with one hook, slings or other lifting devices must be used to keep the loops vertical and prevent damaging lateral forces.
- Never, under any circumstances, allow personnel to stand or place any part of their body under a suspended FIBC. All personnel must be safely clear of any potential hazards when lifting, handling, or emptying an FIBC.
- Never exceed the safe working load or rated capacity of an FIBC.
- Ensure that every FIBC is filled evenly and is stable.
- The fill spout or duffle of the FIBC must be closed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, it’s critical to the performance of the FIBC.
FIBCA is dedicated to providing you with tools to help you safely use FIBCs. We hope these guidelines will assist in making your filling and emptying process safe and incident free, now and into the future.
Filling and Emptying Static Protective FIBCs
If FIBCs are to contain combustible or flammable powders or products with flammable solvents or gasses, it is essential that all conductive objects and materials be properly and securely grounded at all times. If Type B or Type D static protective FIBCs are required, reference the IEC 61340-4-4 Standard for requirements; these bags do not require grounding.
If Type C static protective FIBCs are required, reference the IEC 61340-4-4 Standard for requirements; these bags must be securely grounded before and during the filling and emptying process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Never begin filling or emptying a Type C FIBC with, or in the presence of, flammable or combustible materials unless a secure ground connection to the FIBC has been established. Never re-connect a detached ground cable to a Type C FIBC after filling or emptying has started. Stop the process immediately and allow charge to relax before any further handling of the FIBC.
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.