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Safe use of FIBC (Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container)

What happened?

A FIBC (Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container) containing 36 sand bags weighing approx. 25kg each was being lifted from the quayside to the vessel. As the load was lifted to approximately 1 metre, there was a routine inspection of the load to check the handle loops and that the base of the bag was OK before lifting. The FIBC was raised to 3–5 metres when a distinctive tearing / ripping sound was heard, it was then the FIBC handle and stitching tore and the 900kg of sand bags fell onto the quayside. There were no injuries.

What actions were taken?


  • Inspect prior to use ensuring they are:
    • free from damage that can compromise its strength;
    • free from any UV degradation (due to sunlight exposure);
    • free from chemical damage;
  • Lift following manufacturer and supplier’s instructions;
  • Ensure the landing area is clear of sharp and protruding edges;
  • Ensure the filled FIBC is stable and secure during transportation;
  • Store in a suitable location protected from UV radiation and rain (long periods of storage);
  • Pad out forklift forks when lifting through lift handles to eliminate sharp edges.


  • Drag or push FIBCs;
  • Stop/start suddenly when lifting (shock loading);
  • Allow suspended load to swing uncontrollably;
  • Lift by steel wires or similar devices which may present sharp edges or rough surfaces;
  • Use an FIBC which has exceeded 2 years from the date of manufacture;
  • Lift over personnel

Note: If there is any doubt over the integrity of the FIBC, replace the FIBC or use a metal transfer basket/half height.

Members may wish to refer to

Safety Event

Published: 6 July 2020
Download: IMCA SF 20/20

Relevant life-saving rules:
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