Electric pallet jacks, often called “pallet trucks,” are designed for lifting and transporting palletized materials over relatively short distances. They come in many different types and styles and are vital to daily operations in today’s industry. Even though they seem simple to use, they can be very dangerous when used by an untrained operator or in an unsafe manner.
Be familiar with the electric pallet jack that you will use on the job. A lift rating capacity plate should be mounted on the jack; never exceed the manufacturers load rated capacity. Know how to use the power controls and brakes properly. Use the forks and attachments correctly. Always inspect the equipment prior to each use and never operate an electric pallet jack if it is malfunctioning.
ALWAYS: Review the manufacturer’s operating instructions and details on the jack’s capacity.
Watch for coworkers and obstacles at all times when you are using an electric pallet jack. Give people the right of way instead of expecting them to get out of your way. Slow down and proceed cautiously when you are at a crosswalk or obscured throughway in the workplace. Try to stack and move loads in a manner that will not block your line of vision. Always use a spotter to assist you if you cannot see around the load.
Electric pallet jacks are easy and safe to operate as long as the best practices below are followed:
- Prior to operating an electric pallet jack, always fill out the pre-operation inspection sheet. This will ensure you are using an electric power jack that is in good mechanical condition.
- If the electric power jack does not pass the pre-operation inspection, do not use it and report the malfunctioning equipment to your supervisor immediately.
- Always be cautious of the wide swing of the electric power jack. Keep your body, especially your feet and ankles, clear of the jack.
- When operating the electric pallet jack always face the direction of travel, do not walk backwards.
- An electric pallet jack should never be operated on a ramp.
- The red button on the operation handle is an emergency reverse. This button will prevent the electric pallet jack from running you over.
- The electric pallet jack, with a full load, can weigh as much as a car. You cannot stop, push, or drag the electric pallet jack. Never use your body to stop the electric pallet jack.
- If a pallet is stuck on the forks of an electric pallet jack, there are only two ways it can be safely removed:
- Using the hydraulics on the control arm moves the forks up and down to loosen the pallet. o Always leave the machine in the “off” position whenever it is not in use.
Electric Pallet Jacks – Do’s:
- Know the capacity before operating.
- Familiarize yourself with safety features such as a direction reverse switch “belly button.”
- Keep your speeds low and be ready to stop. Always stop completely before changing directions.
- When hauling loads, walk in front of the walkie and partly to the side, pulling it behind you.
- Unless you have a two-tiered load and a load backrest, you should travel with the load downhill when going up or down slopes.
Electric Pallet Jacks – Don’ts:
- No passengers.
- No sudden movements – this can cause spilled loads.
- No sprinting
- No pushing or towing extra loads.
Operator training and certification are required on the specific equipment you are using.
If you are using familiar products in a new location or work application, you must complete training for those specific uses.
Every unique workplace can have its own rules and policies for safe operation. Be sure you know these before you use familiar equipment in those locations.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED…AND ALWAYS BE PROTECTED!!
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