How Do You Operate A Hand Pallet Truck?

Hand pallet trucks are the most common piece of equipment used in warehouses worldwide and you would not be the first if you were confused by one. Essentially they are very simple machines and once you have operated a jack just once it will become second nature to you.

Pallet trucks are used to effectively facilitate the movement of palletised loads around a warehouse, grocery store, factory or any other premises that deals with palletised loads.

How Do You Operate A Hand Pallet Truck

If you are a newbie to the world of pallet trucks then follow the steps below and you’ll soon be effectively operating a hand pallet truck.

First Step – Locating the Release Lever

When preparing to lift a palletised load with your pallet truck you will be standing behind the operating handle. On the operating handle you should be able to see a small lever that can be activated to release hydraulic pressure and lower the pallet truck forks to the floor.

Often the pressure release lever is found in the centre of the operating handle and in some cases it is clearly marked by high visibility colour and/or markings.

Second Step – Activate the lever

In order to get your pallet truck in a position to load the pallet you need to ensure that the forks or ‘pallet prongs’ are lowered to only an inch or two from the floor. To do this you should pull the lever up, this will release the hydraulic pressure and lower the forks.

Third Step – Getting Ready to Lift the Load

Of course to lift the palletised load, the forks must be pushed into the space in the wooden structures that are specifically designed for facilitating the movement of pallets by pallet trucks and forklifts. Your pallet truck should have a wheel located on each fork and two at the operating handle. To push the forks under the pallet deck-boards you should ensure that the forks are completely lowered and sometimes a walking pace is required to push the pallet wheels over the lower wooden board of the lifting space.

Fourth Step – Lifting the Load

Once the forks of the pallet truck are in the lifting space, it’s time to lift the load into the air before it can be moved.

To lift the palletised load you need to ‘pump’ the operating handle and its vertical stem up and down or towards you and then back towards the pallet truck. This action creates hydraulic pressure and lifts the load against the force of gravity. Ensure that the pallet is lifted clear of the floor but don’t lift it too high as depending on the weight of the pallet, this could cause an imbalance when turning. If you think that you may have lifted the pallet slightly too high then use the pressure release handle to lower the load slightly.

Fifth Step – Away you go

The only thing left to do is move the pallet. Once sufficiently raised into the air, the pallet should not be in contact with the floor. To move the truck simply pull the operating handle and have the pallet follow you.

When pulling the pallet make sure that you are a sufficient distance from the truck as if you are too close you could catch the back of your heels. Anyone operating a pallet truck should ideally be wearing steel toe capped boots.

If you need to push the load over a small joint onto a truck then it’s ideal to push the truck as you can generate more of an explosive thrust. You should also push the truck if you are relocating the pallet in a confined or precise space.

I hope this guidance has helped you, while the trucks are basic machines it can be difficult to get to grips with them without proper instruction. If you are still unsure then ask a fellow colleague to give you a hand or click here for more information on pallet trucks.

Featured images:

License: Royalty Free or iStock


This article was written and provided by David Trent, a material handling expert based in the West Midlands.

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