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What Hand Laborers and Material Movers Do

Hand laborers and material movers transport objects without using machines. Some workers move freight, stock, or other materials around storage facilities; others clean vehicles; some pick up unwanted household goods; and still others pack materials for moving.


Hand laborers and material movers typically do the following:

In warehouses and wholesale and retail operations, hand material movers work closely with material-moving machine operators and material recording clerks. Automatic sensors and tags are increasingly being used to track items that allow these employees to work faster. Some workers are employed in manufacturing industries in which they load material onto conveyor belts or other machines.

The following are some examples of hand laborers and material movers:

Laborers and hand freight, stock, and material movers move materials to and from storage and production areas, loading docks, delivery trucks, ships, and containers. Most of these movers work in warehouses, although their specific duties vary. Some workers, called pickers, find products in storage and transport them to the loading area. Other workers load and unload cargo from a truck. Sometimes they open containers and sort the material.

Hand packers and packagers package a variety of materials by hand. They may label cartons, inspect items for defects, and record items packed. Some of these workers pack materials for shipment and transport them to a loading dock. Others work in retail as gift wrappers. Many hand packers are employed by grocery stores, where they bag groceries for customers at checkout.

Machine feeders and offbearers process materials by feeding them into equipment or by removing materials from equipment. This equipment is generally operated by other workers, such as material-moving machine operators. Machine feeders and offbearers might help the operator if the machine becomes jammed or needs minor repairs. Machine feeders track the amount of material they process during a shift.

Cleaners of vehicles and equipment clean automobiles and other vehicles, as well as storage tanks, pipelines, and related machinery. They use cleaning products, vacuums, hoses, and brushes. Most of these workers clean cars at a carwash, automobile dealership, or rental agency. Some clean industrial equipment at manufacturing firms.

Refuse and recyclable material collectors gather garbage and recyclables from homes and businesses to transport to a dump, landfill, or recycling center. Many collectors lift garbage cans by hand and empty them into their truck. Some collectors drive the garbage or recycling truck along a scheduled route. When collecting materials from a dumpster, drivers use a hydraulic lift to empty contents of the dumpster into their truck.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition