Safety Culture Improvement
The Hierarchy of Safety Controls

It's Just a Powered Pallet Jack

Greg LaRochelle 2014 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

Take an ordinary, manual pallet jack and kick it up a notch with the addition of an electric motor and, voila, you have a powered pallet jack.  Wonderful, no more strain to the low back by having to overcome inertia (with brute force) to get the wheels rolling as is commonly the case with a heavy load on the manual type of pallet truck.  But wait, do we just place it into service and let our employees go merrily on their way down the aisle with the new motorized rig?  Not so fast!

OSHA regards a powered pallet jack as a type of powered industrial truck subject to their standard, 29 CFR 1910.178.  In their Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklift) e-Tool, OSHA categorizes a powered pallet jack as a Class III Electric Motor Hand Truck or Hand/Rider Truck with examples illustrated in the Types and Fundamentals section.  As such, operation of a powered pallet jack is subject to the specific training requirements as follows:

1910.178(l)(2)(ii)

Training shall consist of a combination of formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, video tape, written material), practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer and practical exercises performed by the trainee), and evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace.

In addition, a daily or pre-operational inspection is required for a powered pallet jack to include the following:

  • Vehicle inspection: Forks, battery, and hand guards.
  • Operations inspection: Check the drive operation, test the brakes, check the horn, and inspect the load-handling attachment operation.

For more information on OSHA’s powered industrial trucks standard, click here.

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