A pallet jack is meant to help workers handle heavy loads safely. Think how easily workers could be injured if they tried to move the same materials without the assistance of a pallet jack. However, if they don’t use the equipment safely, they can be injured just as easily.
Pallet jacks clearly aren’t as dangerous as forklifts, but they can still cause accidents, damage materials and structures, and result in serious injuries.
The two keys to locking the door on pallet jack accidents are: (1) clear safety rules and (2) lots of hands-on training.
Rules for safe operation of pallet jacks include:
- Never operate a pallet jack unless you have been trained to do so.
- Wear proper foot protection and gloves.
- Never exceed the manufacturer’s maximum load rated capacity. The capacity will be clearly marked on the pallet jack.
- Center the forks evenly under the load to maintain good balance and ensure stability of the load. Make sure the forks are positioned completely under the pallet.
- Maintain a clearance of about 1 inch between the floor and the pallet. The load is more stable if it is kept close to the floor.
- Pull, don’t push, manual pallet jacks—you will have better control of the load. One exception: Push them when going down a ramp.
- Start and stop gradually to prevent the load from shifting position.
- Stop moving your load if someone is in your way—don’t assume the person sees and can avoid you.
- Use established traffic lanes and exercise caution to avoid collisions at corners.
- Ask a spotter to assist you if your view is obstructed by the load.
- Make sure your foot is safely out of the way before you lower a load.
- Park the pallet jack in a level place with the forks lowered when you are finished using it.
- Make sure the handle is up and the jack is out of a traffic area so no one will trip over it.
- >Don’t block exits or emergency equipment, like fire extinguishers.
- Don’t speed, and be extra cautious on ramps.
- Never carry riders or ride the equipment yourself—horseplay can cause accidents!