Forklift Drum Handling and Attachments

In this post I will talk about forklift drum handlers and attachments, as forklift trucks have and will continue to be a standard work horse of many work-sites, having the right attachments and tools will ultimately let you get the most out of your fork truck machines.

Drum handling is a common task when it comes to pharmaceutical plants, chemical factories or oil industries, that are dealing with liquid material in steel or plastic drums. A lot of the time these are hazardous materials and careful handling must be ensured, over the years many safety regulations have been placed on those handling materials of this nature and for good reasons, to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries and to protect the environment.

An example of industry where drum handling is done on a daily basis is the oil industry, which handles the most amount of drums per year, with up to 35 Billion barrels of oil being produced in 2017. Drum handlers are an important tool for many industries, we will take a look at the various attachments available and what features and benefits they have to offer.


Some fork truck operators have in the past just used the forks on the trucks with a sling to transport drums this is very unsafe and illegal, only drum handling and transporting can be done using approved equipment which has met safety standards and complies with health regulations. Knowing what drum handler to use and where is important to ensuring safe and efficient lifting operations.

Drum Weights

The weight of even empty steel drums are 20 kg this can be dramatically increased when they are fully laden with liquids. Even the plastic drums can be 15kg dry weight. The weight of steel drums which are full can be as high as 300 kg for some liquids depending on their viscosity, this is far too heavy for workers to be lifting and moving about manually. This is why drum handlers have been developed, to make lifting and transporting of drums more efficient and secure. If a full drum which was being lifted manually or rolled to transport it posses a great risk as people could get hurt or injured in the immediate area.



Simple or ‘entry level’ Forklift Drum Grabs that are an affordable option, they simply attach on to the forks of the fork truck, with lifting capacities ranging from 500 kg up to 1000 kg and having the option of lifting up to 2 drums at a time with some variants, it is no wonder that they are one of our best selling drum grabs, they also come in a variety of fork widths to suit many different sizes and are simply a great product for moving steel drums around the factory or store with its heavy duty zinc plated screw clamps that secure the drum handler to the lift truck forks safely.  

Their operation is fully automatic meaning that when the grab hugs underneath the rolling hoops of the drum, as it lifts it tightens its grip ensuring it is secure and safe to lift. In turn no manual handling of drums is required with this grab, making it a great alternative to older methods of drum handling. This drum grab helps to increase site health and safety which is paramount for any organisation.


Another attachment that is quick and easy to use is our carriage mounted drum handler. This drum handler is a great one to choose if you which to make the drum handler truck dedicated to lifting drums. This attachment is also ideal when turning room is restricted or limited and could not accommodate a forklift truck with forks attached.

There are many types of drum grabs, some grabs are capable of lifting 2 or more drums at a time or lifting drums from different positions, we will take a look at a rim grip handler next.


We also have the rim grip forklift drum handler which has a steel head that allows for gripping very tightly to the top of the drum, ideal for picking up and dropping off drums which work with both Steel and 'L' Ring Plastic drums. The rim gripping features allows for better handling of drums that have little or no spaces between them making it a good option for de-stuffing or stuffing containers for transporting. This handler due to its practical grip is well suited for even very thin drums and prevents damage and associated costs to the drums in this way.


The head of the rim grip is coated with zinc for added protection and gives the product a longer life. These drum handlers can used to pick up both steel and plastic drums making it a versatile choice of drum handler with a capacity of up to 750kg for the single drum lifter and 1500kg for the dual drum rim gripper, both are suited for carrying drums of 210 litre. With the dual gripper having the ability to pick up 2 drums at a time helps speed up drum transporting making this task more efficient for large drum moving operations. It also supports a rubber lined cushion which the drum rests upon, this helps during transportation so as not to create any movement of the drums when transporting.




We have a range of drum positioners these lifters are another great option when it comes to moving and transporting drums. Ideal for lifting drums which are in a horizontal position that need to be manipulated to the vertical position. With these drum handlers there is no need for the forklift truck driver to leave the cab to operate these lifters. They come with a lifting capacity of 400 kg and have the option of 3 tines and 4 tines depending on your requirements and what way the drums need to be transported.

They are completely mechanical in operation and are suitable for many types of stacking of drums such as in a pyramid orientation or on to drum stands. They are constructed with a relatively mild steel construction and are painted with a high gloss yellow which gives it added visibility.  It is a simple design with very few moving parts this helps to ensure it has a long service life with very low maintenance costs involved. There is no girdle in place to hold the drums in place, so drums can be then laid on any flat surface thus eliminating the need for any manual handling. With the self locking pull cord allows the driver of the forklift truck to operate it from within the cab.


Handling drums weighing hundreds of kilograms really is no problem with forklift drum attachments and these tools are specifically designed to lift, move, and handle industrial drums quickly, safely, and efficiently they reduce the risk of injury and are an affordable option.

But there's not just one type of forklift drum attachment available. There are multiple versions of the same tool, the one you should use depends on the task at hand.



Having a tool to rotate drums, either for emptying, pouring or transporting is an ideal product on any work site that handles and works with drums regularly. It's a common job to have to work on drums as drums tend to be moved around or need to be emptied on a regular basis on a busy work-site. The operation of these tools are performed using different methods which we will take a look at in the next section but the drum rotator above comes with the crank handle, this crank handle makes rotation a lot easier, offering quick turning with a smooth action.


Using Forklift Drum Rotators

This is important that the rotation is done smoothly so as not to spill the contents out of the drum cap or move the contents of the drum too quickly shifting the weight around. These drum rotators can come with crank handles, hand turning chains and even come with a hydraulic option for rotating the drums. The different options vary in price and ultimately suit some environments better than others, assessing your needs to what products function better in your environment is important to get the most out of these tools.

These rotators suit both plastic and steel drums, and through the use of a high quality gearbox, these drum rotators offer controlled and precise drum pouring functionality.



When it comes to large operations for drum handling and transporting, time is important, having an efficient workflow will save both time and money in the long run. The drum rotator for doing this is the hydraulic drum rotator, this offers the ability to rotate the drum without the forklift truck driver having to leave the cab or to manually rotate the drum this is done with controls in the cab, this reduces the risk of back strain and improves productivity. This has a drum girdle which is manually adjusted, the benefits of this is that the girdle will grip the drum firmly ensuring no slippage occurs and contents are not lost.



Sideways Rotating

Suitable for a variety of drums from steel and plastic drums of the Large and extra Large ring variety and 210 liter capacity, it offers the ability to rotate the drums clamped on sideways through 360 degrees. As seen in the image this rotator comes with a crank handle and a high quality gearbox to perform the rotation, this is easy to use and does not require much force to turn, the drum can be turned in any direction sideways.

The turning action is smooth and consistent with full rotation being performed easily within minutes.

An ideal forklift drum rotator attachment that is great for using in narrow areas where space is restricted or confined and where sideways rotation is only possible.


From entry level drum grabs that can easily pull their fair share to drum positions lifting drums in tight spaces or even when it comes time to emptying out the drums using drum rotators, we have taken a brief look at these tools and what their uses are. When it comes to having a safe and efficient work-site, that comes down to having the right tools for the job, taking the time to research and commit to making a good investment is the key, with our range of quality products we hope you can find a product that suits all of your needs, please take the time to check out our forklift attachment web store here to view our full range of products.