Standard Active Last Updated: Mar 15, 2024 Track Document
ASTM D6804-24

Standard Guide for Hand Hole Design in Corrugated Boxes

Standard Guide for Hand Hole Design in Corrugated Boxes D6804-24 ASTM|D6804-24|en-US Standard Guide for Hand Hole Design in Corrugated Boxes Standard new BOS Vol. 15.10 Committee D10
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Significance and Use

4.1 It may be desirable at times to provide hand holes in corrugated boxes. Package designers use hand holes to solve ergonomic and handling problems associated with large or awkward containers. This guide provides an aid for proper hand hole design and use.

4.1.1 Boxes for handling by a single person.

4.1.2 Boxes that are too large or awkward to be handled well by a single person (4.4.1).

4.2 Ergonomics: 

4.2.1 In studying and applying ergonomic principles, of primary concern is the need to provide a safe work environment for material handlers who may be required to lift or transport packages. A safe work environment is difficult to define and varies with the package in question. Several ergonomic safety issues involve repetitive motions and spine loading in the lifting process. Other issues involve finger and foot protection.

4.2.2 In distribution centers or warehouses, low back disorders have been identified as areas of elevated risk. Low back problems continue to represent the most common and costly musculoskeletal disorders in the work place.4

4.2.3 One method used to reduce the concern of distance of lift (spinal loading) is to bring the reach of the material handler's hands closer to the body. With large or awkward boxes, placing hand holes in a more advantageous position can solve this problem.

4.2.4 Maximum weight for lifting is not generally specified by safety organizations. However, when considerations of repetition, movement, and other ergonomics are taken into account, a typical maximum load per single person is often limited to 40 to 50 lb per package.

4.3 NIOSH: 

4.3.1 The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published Work Practices Guide for Manual Lifting.5 This document may be of assistance in developing proper hand holes and their placement for a specific package.

4.3.2 Hand holes for single person box handling are generally intended for vertical symmetric lifting with some rotation and is limited to a few steps. Use of hand holes to lift with one hand, push a box, or pull a box are not recommended practices. Pushing or pulling by hand holes can weaken the box sidewall and thus reduce compression resistance at the time of damage and reduce the expected time a box can survive constant load before failure (lifetime). Pulling by hand holes may lead to tearing and loss of control of box as it exits its supporting structure (Appendix X1).

4.3.3 Actual maximum acceptable load for a single person lift depends on box weight, size, lift frequency and distance of movement. Maximum weight and size limits can be estimated using the NIOSH equations.

4.4 Other Box Apertures – Improper Use as Hand Holes: 

4.4.1 Some hand holes are intended for hand gripping to facilitate moving or turning a heavy box but are not intended for lifting.

4.4.2 Not all box apertures are intended to be used as hand holes. These apertures may be intended for ventilation, inspection, adjustment of contents or other uses. These other apertures are not intended for use in manipulating boxes and it is improper to use these apertures as hand holes.

4.4.3 Examples of typical hand holes are shown in Fig. 1. Use of hand holes and associated cautions should be agreed upon between the supplier and the user.

FIG. 1 Common Hand Hole Types

Common Hand Hole TypesCommon Hand Hole Types

4.4.4 Since all end use conditions and requirements cannot be foreseen and since designing for worst case scenario for all applications is prohibitively expensive, designers should follow best practices. The prudent designer will consider product and package weight when deciding the proper use of a hand hole.


1.1 This standard provides guidelines for designing pre-cut apertures intended for use as hand holes in corrugated boxes during manual handling of boxed cargo.

1.2 Limitations—This standard offers guidance for package development and for subsequent testing of boxes to measure performance. It is not intended to provide specific information on the design of hand holes.

1.3 The values stated in inch-pound units are to be regarded as the standard. The SI units are for information only.

1.4 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use..

1.5 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 15.10
Developed by Subcommittee: D10.27
Pages: 11
DOI: 10.1520/D6804-24
ICS Code: 55.160