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Hand pallet trucks: spot the hazard

Findings from the UK’s largest online fork lift hazard perception test, suggest room for improvement is needed when it comes to identifying safe hand pallet truck operation.

Mentor Training, who created the test alongside the Fork Lift Truck Association, advises that although not as well documented as forklift accidents, these smaller, more basic pieces of lifting equipment can – and often do – cause injury, damage and disruption when operated incorrectly.

On average, over 4,500 injuries involving hand trucks, pallet trucks and similar handling aids, such as wheel barrows and trolleys, are reported every year*, yet findings from Mentor’s test showed that more than half of the 1300 managers, supervisors, operators and pedestrians that took part didn’t identify incorrect operation of a hand pallet truck as a hazard.

“Businesses shouldn’t disregard these pieces of equipment as harmless when budgeting for training,” says Andy Cartwright, Mentor’s Technical Manager.

“Although they are much less complex and powerful than other materials handling equipment, accidents are common. Operators using them incorrectly often experience bruised and fractured lower limbs and musculoskeletal injuries.

“Remember – there’s a reason why hand pallet trucks are covered by the same legal requirement as forklifts for safety training.”

Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) requires that those operating any type of work equipment should be trained to use it, to understand the risks involved and to take the necessary precautions. It also specifies that supervisors and managers should receive similar training.

Mentor’s hazard perception test highlighted one of the most common errors surrounding this type of equipment: pushing rather than pulling a hand pallet truck. The truck should be pulled with one hand while the operator faces the direction of travel, to ensure visibility and control are maintained. Results show only 42% of managers and supervisors identified incorrect use of these machines as a risk factor.

Mentor advises that adhering to best practice when operating all materials handling equipment, regardless of its size, is vital to maintaining a safe and productive working environment.

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