Operating pallet jacks safely

Oct 22, 2020
Written by wpengine

Pallet jacks are common in the retail industry for moving freight. The sight of one should trigger the memory of a basic safety rule.

A person can push almost four times the weight they can pull. That’s why when the choice to push or pull a pallet jack arises, it’s generally safer to push it.

Rick Means, WR’s Director of Safety and Education, reminds that in moving weight, a worker is strongest pushing with his legs for a foundation. The physics follows the same principle as in lifting; lift using your legs for balance, not your back.

People who get hurt on the job moving weight often ignore the body mechanics involved in working safely.

Using both arms to pull a pallet jack behind you is a recipe for being run into by the pallet if you have to stop suddenly. You also take your body out of its more natural position that can lead to lower back issues. By pushing, a worker will find he or she has better control to steer and maneuver away from obstacles and they can stop quicker.

It takes less energy to push a pallet jack compared to pulling it. Ask your employees to spend the day pushing the jack instead of pulling it. They are sure to notice the difference in energy used by the end of the day.

Whether it is a manual or electric machine, it remains a good idea to push rather than pull a loaded pallet jack. The only difference between the two types of pallet jacks is that an electric one will operate when you are in the pulling position. In that case, the jack is doing all the moving work as the operator works controls located in the handle.

Check out SAFEME’s Material Handling lesson for more tools to help you with moving merchandise.

WR employs Rick as Director of Safety and Education. He is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x118 or [email protected]