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What Does a Package Handler Do?

Many package handlers use moving dollies to help them load and unload trucks.
Packages wrapped in paper.
Cardboard packages.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2014
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A package handler processes packages at sorting facilities to route them correctly. This job involves a high degree of physical activity, including bending and lifting with potentially heavy weights. Shipping firms often have vacancies for package handlers, particularly during the holiday rush, when they may have a need for seasonal employees. Job openings usually require a high school diploma and a demonstration of physical fitness, with all other training provided by employers.

These personnel work in sorting facilities used to route packages to their final destinations or to trucks which will carry them on the next length of the way. Package handling firms use a series of set routes to move packages from senders to recipients with maximum efficiency. Some automated systems may handle certain aspects of the shipping process, but package handlers also play an important role in getting shipments where they need to go. This is particularly important for fragile or sensitive objects.

On the job, a package handler can load and unload trucks, which typically involves lifting, lowering, and sliding packages. Handlers usually need to consider efficiency during the loading process in particular, when they want to make sure drivers will be able to readily access packages along their routes. This requires reading labels, noting alphanumeric codes used to designate different destinations and priorities, and working with packages of a variety of shapes and sizes. Multiple personnel may cooperate on tasks and it’s important to be able to communicate clearly.

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Sorting inside a facility can also be the responsibility of a package handler. This requires moving packages to the right areas for shipment or delivery trucks, and can also require checking for priority and urgent packages to make sure they are kept first in line. If packages are damaged or their addresses are incomplete, they need to be pulled for closer evaluation to determine which actions, if any, need to be taken. For example, a package handler might tape up a package that has started to tear, attaching a tag to alert the recipient to the fact that it was received at the sorting facility in that condition.

It is important to be able to bend and lift safely on the job. Package handlers are at risk of injuries associated with repetitive strain or poor posture while maneuvering loads. Personnel may provide instruction in safe handling and it’s also possible for a package handler to wear a back brace to support good posture and safe lifting practices.

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