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Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Incidents More Likely To Occur When Loading And Unloading

September 4th, 2007 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Safety

It‘s not news that, except at Skolnik, all forms of packaging have been on “diets” for the last 20 years. Less steel, less plastic, less paper — it’s all about reduction of material thickness to reduce cost and natural resource depletion. In the case of steel drums, we‘ve seen other manufacturers reduce the weight of their drums by as much as 25%, claiming that these lighter gauge drums perform as well as the heavier ancestor. Now comes recent news from the DOT (Department of Transportation), that for bulk packagings, 25% of hazardous material incidents occur during the process of loading or unloading for transportation. In addition, 33% of incidents that occur in transportation were the result of damage that occurred during the process of loading or unloading. Furthermore, most of the damage during the unloading/loading process is related to puncture by forklift, nails and other sharp objects used to secure the load. Though DOT did not summarize the loading and unloading statistics for non-bulk (steel drums) packagings, the DOT incident log (as summarized by CL Petit of RIPA), indicates that 61% of failures were due to drums being punctured or crushed with 63% of failures the result of a forklift accident; improper preparation; inadequate blocking and bracing; impact with a sharp object, and abrasion. With wall thickness diminishing, statistics now confirm that the increase in packaging incidents relates directly to these “slimmer” versions of the steel drum “work-horse.” The result is more clean-ups and more product loss — all for very little savings. In my opinion, a packaging option is not favorable if, by diminishing the cost, the risk to the contents is increased. In the case of steel drums, thickness does matter.

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