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How To Use a Pallet Jack

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All pallet jack operators are required by OSHA to complete a safety training course.

  • One of the most important things to do before using a pallet jack is to perform an inspection.
  • It is critical to keep your pallet jack in good condition, this is where maintenance comes into play.
  • After every use, pallet jacks should be stored out of the way so they do not create hazards.

How To Use a Pallet Jack

Pallet jacks are among the most essential tools in warehouses and at construction sites. Pallet jacks are used for transferring small loads over short distances. They are less expensive, easier to operate than most forklifts, and are also safer than manual labor.

These durable tools are divided into two types: manual pallet jacks and electric pallet jacks. Depending on the scale and scope of the project, either can be a viable option.

Pallet Jack Training

It is important to note that all pallet jack operators are required by OSHA to complete a safety training pallet jack course and receive their pallet jack certification. The rest of this article will be focused on how to properly use a pallet jack, but keep in mind that reading through this article alone will not suffice for training. In order to be considered a qualified operator, you will need to take an OSHA-compliant safety course. 

Inspections

One of the most important things to do before using a pallet jack is to perform an inspection. Check that everything is ready and functional. Look for concerns like loose prongs, uneven wheels, and charging cords that aren't properly stored.

Though it may appear to be a hassle, it will save time and money in the long run. It will be worth the extra few minutes to ensure that you do not drop your load due to a malfunctioning pallet jack.

Maintenance

It is critical to keep your pallet jack in good working order. Using a damaged or faulty pallet jack can result in significant and unwanted consequences. 

If you discover cracks and other indications of faults or potential damage during an inspection, do not use it. Pallet jacks should be serviced on a regular basis so that workers can operate them with the least amount of hand, arm, and finger force.

Manual Pallet Jacks

Manual pallet jacks are less expensive and easier to maintain than electric pallet jacks. They are a great option for small to medium-sized warehouses or construction sites. Here are four straightforward procedures for operating a manual pallet jack. Operating a manual pallet jack is simple; the following sections will cover the most essential steps. 

Using the Release Lever

Place your hands on the metal steering handle behind the pallet jack, toward the outward-facing prongs. The prongs are the two horizontal metal components that lift the pallets. Find the plastic release lever on the handle; it is normally attached to the middle bar. It might be a different color to make it stand out, but it should still be obvious in some way.

Once you have located the release lever, move the pallet jack to the desired location and engage the lever to lower the prongs. Push the pallet jack over to the pallet you want to transfer. Lower the prongs to about one inch off the ground by pressing the release lever up and inward. If the prongs are already lowered, pressing the lever will not cause them to move.

Positioning the Prongs

When the prongs are entirely lowered, slide them beneath the pallet you want to transport. If they are still too high to slide beneath the pallet, they may not have been completely lowered. To fix this, you should press the release lever again. Make sure the prongs go all the way through the underside of the pallet so the wheels rest on the floor and not on the pallet.

Lifting the Load

Pull the metal handle and the entire middle bar toward you at an angle after the prongs are positioned beneath the pallet. You should feel some resistance and see the prongs gradually lift the pallet up. Repeat this numerous times until the prongs are not dragging on the floor.

Electric Pallet Jack Operators

The laborious operation of jacking up the prongs is done electronically. This means that electric pallet jacks can be even more convenient to use than manual pallet jacks. Many have a "ride-on" capability that can help you navigate a huge warehouse.

Unplug

To begin operating an electric pallet jack, unhook the charging cord and store it within the machine. Electric power jacks must be plugged in and charged when not in use. The length of cord is normally inserted and stored in a conspicuous area. 

Identify Controls

The direction of movement should be controlled via buttons on the pallet jack's handle. To lower the prongs toward the floor, use the "down" button. Once again, these should be one to two inches off the ground.

Load Pallet

Once you have familiarized yourself with the controls, move the pallet jack to the necessary location. When you get to the load you will be moving, use the buttons to move the prongs underneath and all the way through it. Then, using the "up" button, raise the pallet and prongs off the ground.

Move Load

Once your pallet is securely loaded, use the control buttons to navigate it to your destination. When you get there, press the "down" button once again to lower the prongs and pallet to the floor.

How To Properly Store Pallet Jacks

After every use, pallet jacks should be stored out of the way so they do not block walkways or create hazards such as collision or tripping hazards. Check that they are not stored anywhere that would obstruct exits or emergency equipment like fire extinguishers.

Secure Area

This is especially critical if you are working in a place that is easily accessible to non-employees. Pallet jacks should always be stored in a place that is not easily accessible to customers or civilians. They should also be kept out of the way of other personnel who need to move around the site. 

Do Pallet Jacks Have Working Brakes?

Manual pallet jacks do not have brakes. As a result, it's critical to operate them correctly to avoid being hit by the jack or hitting something else.

Electric pallet jacks, on the other hand, have some form of a brake. This is known as a "belly bumper" switch, and it is positioned on the tiller handle head.

How Much Can a Pallet Jack Lift? 

Manual pallet jacks can raise up to 1500 pounds and can assist you in moving such a hefty load. That is more than ample weight capacity to assist in the transportation of extremely heavy pallets, furniture, or office equipment.

Electric pallet jacks, on the other hand, can lift more weight than manual pallet jacks. Electric jacks allow you to raise and move huge items by utilizing a control mounted on the jack handle, and they can normally transfer weights of up to 5000 pounds.

How High Does a Pallet Jack Lift?

Pallet jacks differ from forklifts in that they are designed to move things rather than lift them to tremendous heights. As a result, their lift heights are only sufficient to elevate the pallet off the ground.

However, most manual pallet jack models have a maximum lift height of 7 to 8 inches. There are, however, certain high-lift manual pallet jacks that can raise up to 31.5 inches. Electric models, on the other hand, have a maximum lift height of roughly 9 inches.