Test highlights need for safe pallet truck operation

News Story
- 15 Jan 2015 ( #701 ) - Chesterfield, United Kingdom
2 min read
The hand pallet truck should be pulled with one hand while the operator faces the direction of travel, to ensure visibility and control are maintained.
The hand pallet truck should be pulled with one hand while the operator faces the direction of travel, to ensure visibility and control are maintained.
Findings from the UK's "largest online forklift hazard perception test" indicate there is room for improvement when it comes to identifying safe hand pallet truck operation.

Mentor Training, which created the test alongside the Fork Lift Truck Association, says that although not as well documented as forklift accidents, incorrectly operated hand pallet trucks can cause injury, damage and disruption.

According to the UK Health and Safety Executive's reported injury statistics for 2001-11, over 4,500 injuries involving hand trucks, pallet trucks and similar handling aids, like wheelbarrows and trolleys, are reported every year.

However, Mentor's test findings show that more than half of the 1,300 managers, supervisors, operators and pedestrians who took part did not 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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