What is a Freight Handler?

3/8/2023

What is a Freight Handler?

The logistics industry comprises hardworking professionals that ensure the smooth progression of the supply chain and end delivery of the goods. And one of the main members of the team that get the job done is freight handlers. 

You may have encountered the term here and there not giving it a second thought. But if you’re associated with the freight and logistics industry in any way, you need to know about what this role is and how it progresses the supply chain. 

A Freight handler or a baggage handler is probably one of the most valued professionals in the courier freight industry. They play a pivotal role in ensuring the seamless movement of goods at warehouses and ports and are the primary point of contact to inquire about goods at storage facilities. 

Let’s take a look at their role in depth. 

Who is a Freight Handler?

To be more definitive, Freight Handlers are responsible for the movement of large quantities of goods from one place to another. They load and unload materials, and ensure the safety of goods that are being moved while maintaining the freight records. 

Their job work also includes doing the heavy lifting from the vehicle to the storage facility, and vice versa. Some other duties include:

  • Being available for picking up incoming shipments from road freight and other modes and delivering them to the storage or warehouses. 
  • Being the point of contact for customers regarding the delivery status and any problems that may arise during shipment. 
  • Loading and unloading sea freight or air freight
  • Inspecting and supervising the machinery or containers to ensure safe transport. 
  • Documentation of landing bills and shipping manifests
  • Operate equipment like freight lifts that help in the loading and unloading of the goods
  • Fulfilling the paperwork before loading and unloading freight 
  • Coordinate with the warehouse staff on the issues that arise during the transportation of the goods. 

What are the Must-have Skills of a Freight Handler? 

1. Physical strength 

Since most of the job responsibilities require freight handlers to load and unload heavy goods throughout their day, it is necessary for them to possess above-average physical strength. If they have the stamina, they can seamlessly go by their day and work productively throughout their shift. 

2. Detail Oriented 

Freight Handlers deal with intricate paperwork and stock units every day. They need to know every unit they ship, and check for damage or shortage, or surplus of any product in the shipment. 

Being detail-oriented helps them with ensuring that all the numbers are accurate and shipments are properly sorted. They can responsibly deal with the paperwork and overlook the shipment to the right destination, at the right time, with the right goods. 

3. Product Knowledge 

Freight handlers don’t need to understand the composition of goods in depth. However, having a basic knowledge of the product can significantly help with their everyday roles. Having product knowledge helps them do basic quality checks, identify hazards, and know about storage conditions. 

It also helps them know how careful they need to be while loading and unloading the goods and follow the necessary safety protocols for them and their teams if any. 

4. Communication 

Since baggage handlers are doing most of the groundwork on the docks and warehouses, they naturally need to communicate with other interested parties such as the truck drivers, the warehouse managers, the team workers, and so on. 

Being at the centre of a chaotic workplace requires freight handlers to have polished communication skills and a calm persona that can handle working under pressure. They also need to maintain regular communication on the phone with other warehouses and customers, making communication an absolute prioritized skill. 

5. Problem-solving Skills 

Logistics is an industry where things can quickly fall out of place and not go according to plan. The shipment can halt due to unpredictable weather conditions, and traffic, a few products can be damaged or lost, the drivers aren’t punctual, and the list goes on. 

In such circumstances, it becomes imperative to have a problem solver in the team and the freight handler is that person. They need to have the skills to solve problems and find solutions in unexpected situations and challenges. 

6. Safety Awareness 

Docks and warehouses are equipped with machines and logistics equipment that requires one to undergo training before use. As freight handlers, it is important to understand the safety protocols for using these pieces of equipment and methods of preventing injuries to promote a safe workplace.

They also need to be well-trained for using safety gear such as hard hats, fire extinguishers, etc to reduce the risks of accidents. It helps them comply with the regulations and uplift the security standards of the overall facility. 

What Equipments do Freight Handlers use?

To be a freight handler, one needs to have the required training and experience in the following equipment:

1. Forklifts

Forklifts are the equipment that actually helps in the loading and unloading of goods. Since it is the primary responsibility of a freight handler, it is absolutely necessary to be well-equipped to operate forklifts. 

2. Pallets

Pallets are used to keep goods with a large volume mounted on a pallet stable while they are being moved. This allows the freight handler to move a large number of goods through forklifts. 

3. Carts

Carts are used for transporting goods from one vehicle to another and also put large parcels inside the warehouses. 

4. Inventory Software 

Since the freight handler has to keep an account of the inventories inside the storage facility, they need to be well-versed with the digital inventory management system that helps them keep a track of their inventory, locate shipments, and make them readily available and traceable. 

How to Become a Freight Handler

Freight handlers may or may not have the above-mentioned experience with using the equipment. You can receive the necessary training for the same. However, there are some non-negotiable skills that defer from company to company. 

As a freight handler, one will be expected to work odd shifts, lift heavy loads, and have the required company certifications. The opportunities for growth are immense. Freight handlers can quickly move onto supervisory and managerial positions where they overlook the work of other freight handlers. 

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