Beverage Delivery » Water Delivery

The water delivery person delivers three and five gallon bottles of water (the majority of the bottles are five gallons) to a variety of residential and commercial customers. The bottles are placed in square individual crates so they can be stacked on pallets within the bays of the truck.


Fig. 1: Bending to place bottles on hand truck.

Potential Hazard:

  • Employees perform frequent torso bending (Fig. 1) when placing bottles of water at ground level or when loading the hand truck for transport.


Possible Solutions:

Fig. 2: Bottle Handle.
  • Providing a handle at the top of the bottle (Fig. 2) near the water release nozzle will allow employees to lower the bottle without placing either of the hands on the bottom. This should reduce the amount of torso bending needed during the lowering process.

  • Educate the employee on the basics of body biomechanics and the importance of maintaining the back in an ergonomically neutral position. Generally, the torso should not bend more than 6 to 10 degrees from vertical.

Fig. 3: Elevated reaching to access bottles.

Potential Hazard:

  • Employees use repeated, elevated reaches (Fig. 3) to access bottles on the top levels of the palletized water containers.


Possible Solution:

  • Reduce the distance employees must reach to access bottles. The arms should be bent and kept in close to the body. Eliminate the fifth row of bottles if at all possible. Reaches should be limited to no more than 16 to 17 inches horizontally and the hands should not need to be raised above head height to remove items from the truck.

Fig. 4: Bottles stacked two rows deep in the bay.

Potential Hazard:

  • Bottle crates are usually stacked two deep within the bays of the delivery truck (Fig. 4). This arrangement forces the employee to use long extended reaches to access bottles at the back of the bay and to lift some of the heavy loads at long distances from the torso. This creates a strain on the low back and shoulders.


Possible Solutions:

Fig. 5: Two employees are better than one.
  • Whenever possible, use two employees (Fig. 5). The use of two employees when using proper lifting techniques will generally reduce the hazard of most lifts.

  • Use an articulated arm or other lifting mechanism to lower and position heavy objects.

Potential Hazard:

  • Not having bottle racks at the delivery site prevents employees from delivering and lifting the bottles at ergonomically desirable heights.

Possible Solution:

Fig. 6: Bottle Racks.
  • Provide the customer with bottle racks at the delivery site (Fig. 6) so employees can deliver the bottles at ergonomically desirable heights. Store empty bottles on the top and bottom shelves, and full bottles in the middle shelves. The employees and the customer would both benefit since heavy lifts would be performed at ergonomically desirable heights.

Potential Hazard:

Loading bottled water onto water coolers exposes employees to several risks. A bottle weighs approximately 48 pounds. To load a bottle, the employee must lift it up, over and onto the water cooler (while trying to avoid spilling the bottle). This is an awkward task that places strain on the employee's back, shoulders, arms and legs (Fig. 7-8). Another hazard is that employees may slip and fall as a result of spilled water.

Fig. 7


Fig. 8


Possible Solution:

Provide a bottled water installer (Fig 9-12). The battery operated, rechargeable machine transports, lifts and loads five gallon bottles. The machine handles the transporting, lifting and loading of the bottles, thus eliminating exposure to heavy lifting and water spillage.


Fig. 9: wheel machine to bottle storage area and tilt bottle onto cradle


Fig. 10: close-up of bottle being tilted onto cradle


Fig. 11: place straps around bottle and close buckle


Fig. 12: place stopper over bottle opening


Fig. 13: wheel bottle in front of cooler


Fig. 14: press load button


Fig. 15: machine begins tilting bottle up


Fig. 16: machine flips the bottle as it reaches the top


Fig. 17: bottle is about to be loaded onto cooler


Fig. 18: stopper arm moves away just as water is loaded


Fig. 19: bottle is safely loaded onto water cooler


Fig. 20: release buckle and wheel away from cooler




Information on the problem of loading bottled water can be found on Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's web site under Lessons Learned - Safety Alerts.

The National Safety Council has a job analysis video series narrated by William Shatner. One of the safety hazards discussed is loading bottled water.