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How to operate a hand pallet truck safely

6 minutes to read

The hand pallet truck, sometimes known as a pump truck, pallet jack or manual pallet truck, is a cornerstone of the materials handling industry. 

When operating hand pallet trucks, it is essential to do so correctly to ensure the safety of warehouse personnel and operators. 

Improper use of hand pallet trucks can lead to accidents, injuries and even fatalities. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how to use hand pallet trucks correctly.

So, what is a hand pallet truck and how do you use it? This blog will help you familiarise yourself with pallet trucks and ensure safety.


What does a hand pallet truck do?

Hand pallet trucks, such as our BT Lifter, are the ideal solution for swiftly lifting palletised loads and transporting them from one point to another in your warehouse or workspace.


Benefits of hand pallet trucks for palletised loads

  • Increased productivity: A hand pallet truck can quickly lift and move palletised loads, reducing the time and effort required and improving productivity.
  • Reduced risk of injury: By eliminating the need for manual lifting and carrying, a hand pallet truck minimises the risk of workplace injuries and strains, making it a safer option for operators and warehouse personnel.
  • Versatility: Hand pallet trucks can be used in various settings, making them versatile and flexible tools for material handling operations.

Streamline your operations

Pre-operational checks

  1. Check you have the correct type of hand pallet truck for your operation. You can read more in our hand pallet truck guide

  2. Visually inspect the truck for wear or damage. 

  3. Raise the forks fully to check there is no sign of hydraulic oil leaks. You can do this by pressing the lever downwards and then operating the handle.

  4. Check the load is securely stacked.

  5. Check there is no damage to the pallet.

warehouse safety

Setting up

  1. Align the forks with the gaps of the pallet.

  2. Firmly grip the handle with two hands and push steadily forward in the upright position, carefully guiding the forks into the gaps.

  3. Ensure there is enough clearance before raising the forks. Be aware of any overhead obstructions and width restrictions.

  4. Raise the forks using the lever. Once the pallet clears the floor, return the lever to the neutral position.

  5. Push the handle down, turn to face the direction you will be travelling and grip the handle firmly. If you are turning left, use your left hand. When turning right, use your right hand.


Moving your pallet truck safely

  1. Ensure your route is clear of obstructions — check there are no pedestrians or other trucks.

  2. With the handle low, gently pull to start the truck moving. The forks should be trailing behind you.

  3. Walk to one side of the truck. Never stand directly in front of the pallet truck when travelling and never stand on the inside of a turn.

  4. Where possible, travel on the left side of the aisle and do not make sharp turns.

  5. Always walk at a safe speed. Never run.

  6. If travelling down a slope with a loaded truck, keep the load facing down and control the speed by pulling back with both hands on the handle.


watch it in action


At your destination

  1. Once at your destination, manoeuvre the palletised load into position. 

  2. Ensure you are clear of the load and slowly pull on the lever to lower the load under control.

  3. When fully lowered, release the lever into the neutral position.

  4. Check your surroundings. If it is clear, stand to one side and carefully pull the hand pallet truck away from the pallet.

  5. Make a final check for any new damage to the pallet, the load and the hand pallet truck.

hand pallet trucks


Extra considerations

Some see manual hand pallet trucks as disposable items. However, they will require less frequent replacement if correctly maintained and serviced.

For example, the BT range of manual pallet trucks has been designed to be highly serviceable. It has 12 grease points placed around its pump, frame and axles to keep it functioning perfectly for many years. The BT Lifter is supplied with a 99-year functional guarantee on the fork frame.

Toyota Material Handling has a dedicated team of hand pallet truck specialists and VNA truck specialists who can repair, service and maintain all makes of hand pallet trucks.

This ensures your hand pallet truck works safely when lifting palletised loads and can also extend the expected operating life of the truck.


How can we help you?

Our team has more than 100 years of material handling excellence. We will be happy to share our expertise on whether a hand pallet truck is the right option for your operation. Get in touch with our team below.

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