23 Sep 2014

Q: How safe are your hand pallet trucks?

A: You might 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.

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.

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.

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?

How much effort is needed to use a hand pallet truck?

Independent researchers tested 17 different makes of hand pallet trucks in order to obtain an accurate average across a wide range of manufacturers moving loads of 500kg and 2000kg.

The results were conclusive – and shocking.

Starting a 500kg load from stationary takes, on average, an effort of 23.3kg. Increase the load to 2000kg (2 tonne) and the force required is 49.6kg – massively greater than the official guidelines mentioned earlier.

Raising a 2000kg load on a pallet truck is also very demanding – it taken an average force of 35.1 kg (again much higher than the guideline). Even keeping a 2 tonne load in motion – at 30.7kg – exceeds the guidelines by a whopping 53.3%.

To avoid devastating accidents, read more about the Good to Go Safety systems by clicking here or you can Download the Good to Go Brochure

Referenced from Mitsubishi Forklift Briefing

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