Even when warehouses don't have forklifts on the premises, they often need heavy equipment to move items around the facility. That's where pallet jacks come into play, and these tools can be invaluable for any company. However, they carry their own unique safety concerns of which warehouse workers must be aware.
Here are some of the best ways to avoid an accident with a pallet jack:
1) Put a plan in place, and train for it
The most important aspect of any warehouse safety effort is to make sure every worker is on the same page, and continually receiving training on the best practices to keep everyone healthy on the job, according to the Adapt a Lift Group. That starts with examining unique risk factors and laying out a plan to ensure any potential hazards are avoided. Once that information has been compiled, workers need the proper education and managers have to make sure they are following their training to the letter.
2) Inspect the jack before every use
One critical area for safety here is making sure a pallet jack is safe to use is to look it over carefully any time it's loaded or unloaded, the Adapt a Lift Group added. While the likelihood that things are going to change from one day to the next is low, over time, a lack of inspections could lead workers to miss a loosening wheel or problems with the pneumatic lift that could lead to an accident.
3) Avoid inclines whenever possible
It should go without saying, but using a pallet jack on an incline is not usually advisable, according to the National Ag Safety Database. Simply put, slopes will increase the risk of an accident because it becomes more difficult for operators to maintain control of the jack.
However, sometimes navigating an incline is necessary. If you do have to go up an incline, always make sure you're pulling the jack. When going down a ramp, pushing is the only reasonable option.
4) Pull, don't push
Along similar lines, it's vital for workers to pull the pallet jack whenever possible, the NASD advised. Pushing the equipment may make it less maneuverable and increases the risk of running into something when going around a corner that you couldn't have seen.
5) Don't let extremities get under it
One of the biggest risks around a pallet jack is the one related to having hands or feet get stuck under it as it lowers, so workers must always be conscious of where they're standing or placing their hands around its forks, according to Lantech. While most efforts to raise or lower the jack will go off without a hitch, employees can't risk the chance that it will fail and come crashing down with disastrous consequences.
6) Watch out for 'pinch points'
When turning the jack one way or the other, workers need to be aware of the places where the "pinch" motion could catch their hands or feet, Lantech noted. Often, avoiding the risk is common-sense but nonetheless, hurried work and inattention can lead to otherwise avoidable accidents.