The pallet jack is a must-have in today’s warehousing industry. They help workers move large quantities of inventory and thousands of pounds in just a few minutes, all without breaking a sweat. However, the pallet jack still presents some hazards in the workplace. While they are considered fairly easy to use, things can easily take a turn for the worse when using the machine in certain situations. There were 56 major injuries involving pallet jacks between 2002 and 2016, according to OSHA.
We’ll go over the basic safety requirements for using a pallet jack on the job so you can prevent accidents and mishaps before they happen.
Going Over the Equipment
Every pallet jack is different, so don’t assume they all function the same way. Take a minute to learn about the different types of pallet jacks to see which is right for your business.
Before using the equipment in the field, spend time going over the user manual with your team. Everyone should practice using the forklift on the floor before starting their first shift. Focus on employee safety and proper equipment handling when bringing new employees into the fold.
Print off a list of inspection and handling requirements around the warehouse to keep your team in the know. Everyone should refer to these guidelines when starting their shift.
Basic Safety Information
Regardless of what type of pallet jack you’re using, there are several rules that always apply.
- You should never place your feet directly under the machine, as they could get crushed by accident.
- When moving inventory downhill, it’s always best to go in reverse so the jack doesn’t move too fast or topple over.
- Always push the load forward instead of pulling it, unless going downhill.
- Keep hands and feet away from pinch points and other potential danger zones.
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Know When They Are Necessary
Pallet jacks are essential in the warehouse, but they aren’t the only tool at your disposal. Consider having your team use less sophisticated technology when completing less-challenging tasks. For example, a wheeled cart or collapsible plastic container may be just as useful as a pallet jack in some situations. Your workers can easily wheel the cart or container across the floor without having to power up the pallet jack. This reduces the risk of injury throughout the warehouse.
Work in Bulk
It’s always better to have your team work in bulk when using a pallet jack. The less your workers need to use this equipment, the less likely they are to get injured on the job. Use bulk containers and IBC totes to simplify the loading and unloading process. Ideally, your workers should only have to make a handful of trips with the pallet jack instead of having them move dozens of packages one by one.
Use Plastic Pallets
Plastic pallets are considered much safer than those made of wood for several reasons. Wood pallets lead to the spread of debris, including dust and wood chips, that make it difficult to navigate the space. Workers can easily slide or lose control of the vehicle when working in messy environments. Plastic pallets will not break apart or dissolve over time, making them a much safer option.
Experts say it’s best to use a combined approach to the pallet loading system. This will help your team move merchandise with more peace of mind. It also makes it easy to approach the pallet in question from various angles.
Maintain Your Equipment
Pallet jacks aren’t made to last forever. Continuously inspect your equipment as time goes on to make sure it’s working properly. The last thing you want is for the machine to break down in the middle of an order when you need to get packages out the door as soon as possible. Schedule preventative maintenance to fix these kinds of issues before they occur. Every machine in your arsenal should come with a set shelf-life. Consider replacing or repairing older equipment as this date approaches.
Having a pallet jack be a lifesaver in some situations, but it can also be a risk to your health and safety. Use this information to handle your merchandise with care so everything goes according to plan.