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Pallet Jack Safety Guide & Tips: Keeping Things Simple and Safe

by Ion Rotaru 13 Jan 2024 0 Comments

Operating pallet jacks is as simple as it gets. Or it may seem that way. But as simple as they are, there's still a high risk of accidents and injuries, which may hurt workers. In this blog post, we'll delve into the importance of pallet jack safety and provide practical tips based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines to make sure your workplace is free from any accidents.

The consequences of ignoring pallet jack safety

When we talk about an incident with a pallet jack, it's like setting off a chain reaction of consequences. It's not just a maybe – we're looking at real risks here. Think about it: if something goes wrong, the operators might get hurt, the goods could get damaged, and the whole workflow might go out of whack. These aren't just possibilities; they're actual things that could and do happen.

pallet jack safety

Making sure that using pallet jacks is safe is not just a rule we have to follow – it's a big responsibility. It's about creating a workplace where every job gets done well and smoothly, and most importantly, without putting anyone's safety on the line. It's not just a box to tick; it's a fundamental duty we all have to make sure our workplace is a safe and efficient space for everyone.

Guidelines: pallet jack safety based on OSHA standards

1. Pre-Use Inspection: The Daily Check-Up - According to OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.178(q)(7), industrial trucks, including pallet jacks, must undergo a pre-use examination. This check-up is not a mere formality; it is the frontline defense against potential hazards. Think of it like the daily routine of ensuring your car is fit for the road. If any issues are found, they need immediate attention to avoid compromising the safety of the vehicle.

2. Load Stability: Balancing Act - OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.178(o)(1) emphasizes the importance of handling only stable or safely arranged loads. Caution should prevail when dealing with off-center loads that cannot be centered.

osha pallet jack safety guide

3. Safe Operating Speeds: No Need for Speed - In accordance with OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.178(n)(8), pallet jacks should operate at a speed allowing them to stop safely. It's not a race; it's about moving goods without causing chaos.

4. Operator Competency: Knowledge is Power - OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.178(l)(1)(i) places the responsibility on employers to ensure that every powered industrial truck operator is competent. Proper training is key to safe pallet jack operation.

Pallet jack safety tips

Here are some more pallet jack safety tips that will help keep you safe:

  1. Proper Training: This cannot be stressed enough. Training is absolutely necessary before operating and piece of equipment in a warehouse.
  2. Inspect the Equipment: Before you start using a pallet jack, check its condition. Make sure the wheels are functioning well, the forks are not bent, and the hydraulic lift is in good shape.
  3. Check the Load: Ensure that the load is stable, balanced, and within the jack's weight limit. An unstable or overweight load can cause accidents.
  4. Keep a Clear Path: Before moving a load, check your path for obstacles. You wouldn't want to trip or hit anything while moving a heavy pallet.
  5. Push, Don't Pull: It's safer to push a pallet jack rather than pulling it. This way, you can have better control and avoid strains or injuries.
  6. Slow and Steady: Speeding with a loaded pallet jack is a recipe for disaster. Moving slowly and carefully ensures better control and minimizes the risk of tipping over.
  7. Use Both Hands: While operating the pallet jack, always use both hands. One on the handle to guide and control, the other one to pump the handle when lifting.
  8. Be Cautious Around Corners: When turning, take wide, slow turns. Sharp turns can destabilize the load and could lead to a potential accident.
  9. Lower Slowly: When you're ready to place the pallet down, do so gently. Sudden movements can destabilize the load or damage the goods.
  10. Wear Proper Footwear: Steel-toe shoes are recommended when operating a pallet jack. In the event that a pallet or the jack itself falls onto your foot, you'll want that extra protection.

How to operate a manual pallet jack - Safety checklist

Related: Can a pallet jack go up a ramp?

Is it safer to push or pull a pallet jack?

When it comes to pushing or pulling, the main idea is that you need to have a good view of what's going on around you and where you're going.

pallet jack safety guide and tips

So, let's imagine you're pushing a shopping cart – it's super clear where you're going, isn't it? That's the idea. Opt for the method that allows you to see clearly ahead, keeping your path open and steering away from any unexpected surprises.

This way, you're making your job smoother, and you're steering clear of any bumps or issues that might pop up along the way.

What PPE is Required for Electric Pallet Jacks?

pallet jack safety gear

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is your armor for safe warehouse work. To keep yourself safe, this is what you'll need:

  • Steel-toed Shoes: These shoes are like shields for your feet, making sure they stay safe from bumps and anything that might hurt them while you're working. They're especially useful when operating pallet jacks, because it's not uncommon for the pallet jack wheel to ram into your toes or even run over the foot.
  • High-Visibility Vest: Wearing it makes you easily seen, especially in busy places, keeping you safe while you do your job.
  • Gloves: Your hands do a lot of work, so it's important to protect them. The gloves make sure your hands are safe and sound while you're handling things.
  • Ear Protection: They keep your ears safe when things get loud around you, making sure you can hear well even after a noisy workday.

Number 1 mistake when using pallet jacks

The most significant mistake people make when dealing with pallet jacks is assuming they can work with one without the necessary training. But just like you need training before operating a forklift, you need training before operating a pallet jack.

Without proper training, you're much more likely to make avoidable mistakes. These can hurt not only but those around you as well. Read our article on electric pallet jack training to learn more on this topic.

pallet jack safety training

Therefore, it's highly advisable to get the appropriate training to ensure you're following the correct procedures when handling different types of pallet jacks, putting you on the right path for safe and effective operations.

If you need a quick crash-course to get you started, read our guide on how to use a manual pallet jack to get started.

Final thoughts: Safety first, always

Pallet jacks are indispensable tools. But they must be used responsibly, like any other tool. From pre-use inspections to choosing the right method for moving pallet jacks, each guideline we've outlined above contributes to a safer and more efficient workplace. Make sure to familiarize yourself and your coworkers or employees, so that you may avoid costly mistakes in the long-term.

Looking for your next pallet jack?

Where better to get your next pallet jack than here at WarehouseWiz! We offer affordable manual pallet jacks and electric pallet jacks, without compromising on quality. Check out the different pallet jacks we have available or contact us to get a quote today!

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