How safe are your hand pallet trucks?

Moving pallets around the warehouse is the lifeblood and it must be done safely. There are many ways of moving the pallets and much depends upon the size and weight of the pallet as to what equipment you might use. Whatever equipment is being used must be used correctly so operators and staff must be properly trained before using such equipment. Hand pallets are easy and convenient to use but care should be taken not to overload them.

Q: How safe are your hand pallet trucks?
A: You might well be breaking the law!

Does your company use hand pallet trucks? If so, you could easily be falling foul of the law… Independent research suggests that moving a load of just 500kg could put you the wrong side of official guidelines. Worse still, government figures confirm that anyone using a hand pallet truck runs a much greater risk of injury than previously thought.

In this short report we will:

  • explain the legislation.



    • reveal shocking research findings on operator stress levels



    • give you valuable tips on staying safe and legal



    • help you choose the right equipment for your location


Your responsibilities as an employer

Let’s start with your responsibilities. If you’re an employer, it is your responsibility to do everything reasonable to maintain the well-being of your employees. In the case of lifting and shifting heavy loads, that means making sure you provide the right equipment and training.

Importantly, this doesn’t simply mean avoiding one-off incidents or injuries (the kind you might expect from moving an unusually heavy load). You need to be aware of the gradual and cumulative effect of heavy lifting on a worker’s musculoskeletal system…. and the damage such injuries can do to the smooth running of your business.

Workers exposed to the risk of carrying or moving heavy loads for at least a quarter of their working time.
Workers exposed to the risk of carrying or moving heavy loads for at least a quarter of their working time. (Source: 4th European Working Conditions Survey - 2005)

According to the HSE, the UK agency for Health and Safety, more than one third of all injuries requiring at least three days off from work are caused by manual handling (lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying). On average, each sufferer took 20 days off in a 12-month period – which represents a massive inconvenience to your operations and a blow to your productivity.

Source: HSE Manual Handling Operations Regulations - 2004
Source: HSE Manual Handling Operations Regulations - 2004

How does this apply to hand pallet trucks?

Put simply, if you are moving loads frequently – or shifting any loads greater than 500kg – you should be strongly considering trading in your hand pallet truck for a battery-powered version. In the first of these scenarios, it is the cumulative strain that needs to be avoided. In the case of heavy loads, it is the effort involved in starting and stopping a load – and keeping it in motion – that is the key issue.

The official guideline figure for starting or stopping a load is about 20kg for men (typically the maximum weight for a suitcase at an airport check-in before you pay for excess baggage) or 15kg for women. The acceptable figure for keeping a load in motion is 10kg for men and about 7kg for women. But how does that work in practice? Click here to continue

Further information

Tips on moving pallets

How to operate a manual pallet jack