This case study featured, in an HSE guidance paper, highlights a typical problem in discharging heavy sacks by hand, It outlines the problems inherent in the task and then offers some practical solutions available to provide safer handling.

Case Study - Powder bag handling

Note: Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence’.


In the powder handling department of a yellow fat spreads manufacturer, 25 kg bags of powdered milk-based ingredients were delivered on a pallet. An operator carried the bags, at a rate of 12–16 per hour, seven steps up to a platform containing a hopper


* Operators were suffering from muscle strains/sprains and tiredness.

* Occasionally bags would be dropped resulting in wastage.

*There was a possibility that operators could slip or trip when transporting the bags.

* The operators had to stoop to reach bags from the lower layers of the pallet.

* The operators were holding loads away from the body when lifting bags from the middle of the pallet.

* Complaints had been received from the workforce.

* The operators were spending many days off ill.

* Compensation claims had been received.

Finding solutions

The company built a platform and associated racking on a level with the hopper, on which the full pallets could be placed by a fork-lift truck. They also installed a vacuum lifter, which was used to transfer the bags from the pallet to the hopper


* The manual handling associated with the task was reduced.
* No further complaints were received from the workforce.
* Operators no longer suffer from muscle strains/sprains and tiredness.
* There was a reduction in dropped bags and wastage.
* The operators no longer had to stoop to reach bags from the lower layers of the pallet or hold loads away from the body when lifting bags from the middle of the pallet.
* No further compensation claims had been received.
* There was an increase in efficiency, productivity and quality.

Expanding on the solutions provided

Pallet gate

The installation of a pallet landing platform will need to comply with the latest standard ISO 14122-3:2016 for fall protection on raised platforms of 500 mm height or over.

The Sigma universal safety pallet gate is ideal for this application as the design can be adapted for use with a vacuum lifter. allowing the lifter clear access over the entire pallet and the compact side frames allow good access on three sides.

Sigma Safety Pallet Gate



The handrail needs to be in compliance with the ISO standard. It is available in ready-made kits or custom-built to site requirements

Ready-Made Platform handrails


Custom-Built Platform Handrails 

Sack Lifters

The provision of a vacuum lifter for sack handling lifter supported by rolling beam or swing arm jib is available with electric power or pneumatic power. Alternatively, there are mechanical sack grippers

Sack and Bag Lifters

Pallet Levellers

The difficulty of reaching the bottom sack layers on the pallet can be overcome with a self-levelling and rotating pallet table.

Pallet Leveller

Need Help with your handling applications? Talk to an expert call 0161 223 1990 or email - For a no-obligation quotation