Handling tubs or containers of product

Solutions for employers to eliminate or reduce the health and safety risks associated with handling tubs or containers of product.



Employees having to manually move tubs or containers of product from one location to another, particularly where the tubs need to be slid over a wet floor, will present health and safety risks.

Person trying to move a large bucket
Employees shouldn't have to push or pull objects that are hard to move or stop.
Person using a trolley to move a large/heavy object
Use a tug (shown), conveyor or scissor trolley to allow employees to work in appropriate postures without exerting excessive force.


Manually moving heavy tubs and containers involves bending, twisting and high-force exertion. This can cause musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) to employees, particularly to the back, shoulders, arms and knees. Disorders can occur suddenly or develop over time.

MSD's include:

  • sprains and strains of muscles, ligaments and tendons
  • back injuries, including damage to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, spinal discs, nerves, joints and bones
  • joint and bone injuries, including injuries to the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle, hands and feet
  • nerve injuries or compression (for example carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • muscular and vascular disorders
  • chronic musculoskeletal pain
  • soft tissue hernias


Reduce the risk of injuries by introducing a mechanised or mechanically assisted method of transporting tubs or containers between work areas.

Methods of transport include a:

  • conveyor
  • tug  to move stacked tubs or trolleys
  • scissor trolley to handle and transport individual tubs and containers

Do not use team handling (manual handling of a load by 2 or more employees) for tubs, because tubs are not designed to be handled this way. For more on team handling, see Compliance code: Hazardous manual handling in Further information.


Trolleys should have:

  • a height-adjustable spring or scissor base to ensure the load can be positioned at a suitable height for lifting or sliding heavier items on the bottom
  • handles that project away from the body of the trolley to allow the employee pushing to use them without their legs or feet hitting the trolley during walking
  • a height limit set for stacking, so the employee pushing can see over the load
  • a clearly visible label showing the load rating in kilograms and number of items
  • large-diameter castors suitable for the floor surface
  • swivelling castors to allow the trolley to be steered and manoeuvred in different directions
  • low-resistance bearings
  • regular inspection and maintenance — damaged trolleys should be removed from service until repaired or replaced

Floor surfaces

The floor surface should be flat, smooth, without ridges, rough or damaged patches, and steps or stairs, to allow for safe pulling or pushing of trolleys.

Floor types should be non-slip and suitable for wet areas without increasing the force needed to push trolleys and other equipment.

Regular cleaning and maintenance controls can prevent slips, trips and falls in the workplace. For example, regularly clean for floor type and elimination of spills of grease, residue, oils, crumbs and water.

Inspections will help identify sources of spills and leaks from the handling process and help maintain a clean and smooth floor surface to make it easier to move the trolleys.

Provide footwear to employees that is suitable for handling tubs or containers of product in wet areas.