While pallets jacks are smaller and typically more maneuverable than full-sized forklifts, that does not always mean they are safer. If operated incorrectly or carelessly, pallet jacks can result in serious injuries, including shoulder and back strains, deep lacerations, bruises, and hand or foot trauma – not to mention significant property damage if the jack collides with a stationary object.

In order to operate a pallet jack safely, it is important to keep several best practices in mind and adhere to them every day. Here are some pallet jack safety tips to follow when operating one of these machines in a warehouse environment.

Preparing a Pallet Jack for Safe Operation

Whoever is using the pallet jack on a given day should perform a thorough safety inspection of both the jack itself and the area it will be used in prior to use. Spills and obstacles should be cleared before operation begins, and the jack’s wheels, forks, steering mechanism, and horn should be checked for structural damage and functionality.

If a pallet jack has a motor, the operator should also ensure there are no signs of fluid leakage and that cords and wires aren’t frayed. In addition, anyone operating a pallet jack should have appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE), including heavy-duty gloves, hard-toe boots, and high-visibility jackets or vests if necessary.

Finally, it’s best to undergo formal safety and operational training for the specific model pallet jack you’ll be using. Even though this kind of training is not strictly required by OSHA regulations, it can go a long way toward minimizing the risk of workplace injuries.

What Not to do When Operating a Pallet Jack

You should be familiar with the route you need to take through a warehouse when moving a load from one place to another, and you should be aware of the maximum weight limit for the particular type of jack you’re using. It can be helpful to mark paths for pallet jacks with paint or electrical tape to ensure that operators know where to go and that workers know what areas need to be kept clear of obstructions.

Unfortunately, many pallet jack accidents are avoidable and can be attributed to unsafe behavior. We recommend keeping the following pallet jack “don’ts” in mind:

  • Do not use pallet jacks to move loads up or down ramps or across inclined surfaces
  • Do not lift any load without using both forks
  • Do not carry anyone else as a passenger on a pallet truck
  • Do not operate pallet jacks in highly-trafficked areas while the forks are lowered
  • Do not overload the pallet jack’s forks or leave a load unbalanced
  • Do not operate a pallet jack at high speeds
  • Do not try to stop a pallet jack with the hands or feet

Following these pallet jack safety tips can be key to decreasing workplace accidents and injuries and increasing productivity as a result. To learn more about improving safety in the warehouse, get in touch with our team and schedule a consultation.

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