- Identify the key components of manual and powered pallet jacks.
- Recognize potential hazards associated with using a pallet jack.
- Restate their responsibility as a pallet jack operator to ensure safe operation.
- Identify procedures for safe loading, unloading, and moving of loads using a pallet jack.
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This lesson focuses on the safe operation of both manual and powered hydraulic pallet jacks.
OSHA states that any power-propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack or tier materials, is considered a Powered Industrial Truck (PIT). That places electric power jacks under the same regulatory standard as forklifts, whereas manual pallet jacks, which may be similar in many ways, are considered simple machines or tools.
Safe pallet jack operation includes training, familiarity with operation, inspection of the jack prior to use, wearing the right personal protective equipment (PPE), planning your route, and avoidance of horseplay.
Common hazards associated with pallet jack operation include falling objects (struck by hazards). Loads can fall, and operators can too. If you move a loaded pallet jack too quickly, over uneven floors, or on inclines, the load may topple. You could be injured if the load falls, and the load and/or the workplace may be damaged. Straining to move a stuck pallet jack or failing to maintain control on an incline can cause the operator to slip and fall.
Another hazard associated with pallet jacks involves striking objects or people. If you strike door frames, columns, or other stationary objects with the loaded pallet jack, it can damage property and cause bodily harm such as abrasions, bruises, and fractures from the resulting impact. Obviously, running the pallet jack into a person is almost certain to result in injury, but tripping over exposed forks is another way workers can get hurt.
Straining is another typical factor to occupational injuries resulting from pallet jack operation. You may experience back and muscle strain if you adjust loads or move a loaded pallet jack incorrectly. While pallet jacks are meant to be pushed and not pulled, forceful pulling can cause strain or dislocation of the shoulder.
And crushed-by incidents related to pallet jack operation are also relatively common. Bystanders are at risk of foot injury if a load is dropped on their feet or if a pallet jack runs over their feet. Bystanders can also be crushed by run-away loads. This can happen when working in a trailer or confined area with a sloped floor surface. Similarly, pallet jack operators can be crushed between their loaded pallet jack and a stationary object if the load gets away from them. This is a good reason to push, and not pull, a pallet jack.
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