The most essential tool when it comes to moving heavy loads from point A to point B in a warehouse is the pallet jack. There are electric and manual pallet jacks with the latter being easier to use and more affordable. Manual pallet jacks also require less maintenance and can usually move loads up to 3,500 kg, but they are not as convenient as electric pallet jacks. Like any tool that helps transfer loads, you have to be careful when using a hand pallet lifter since there is a risk that the item being moved might fall off of it. To make sure you are safe when using a hand pallet truck, you need to know how to use it properly.
How to Safely Use a Hand Pallet Jack
1.Before you get to use the pallet jack, make sure the load you are about to move is stacked securely and that it is not damaged. Start moving the hand pallet jack towards the load with the prongs facing it and with your hands on the big metal steering handle.
2. Then, press the release lever up and inward – this lever is located on the centre bar of the big handle. The prongs will be lowered down to about 2.5 cm to 3 cm off the ground. If they are already at that height they won’t go any lower than that when you engage the lever.
3. After lowering the prongs, continue by sliding them under the pallet. Push them all the way through so that you have the wheels resting on the floor. Avoid having the wheels on any part of the pallet.
4. When you have the prongs properly positioned, pull the metal handle towards you at an angle to lift the load. There will be some resistance when doing this, which will then cause the prongs to go up. Pull the handle several times until you have the prongs off high enough to prevent them from dragging on the floor.
Safety Precautions & Tips
When using a hand pallet jack, do not put your feet under the machine and never go over the jack’s maximum carrying capacity. Make sure to always move the load slowly to prevent any mishaps in case your surroundings were to suddenly change. Before you start, check the condition of the hand pallet truck, especially the wheels. Inspect the wheels for wear and cracks in order to reduce the chances of the load becoming unstable when moving the pallet jack.
The load should always be pushed and not pulled and when you are going down an incline, make sure you do it in reverse. Plan the route you want to take in advance to ensure that there are no obstacles in your way and stick to the correct side of the warehouse when moving the load. If the load is so big that it’s blocking your view, ask a coworker to guide you to your destination.
To keep a hand pallet lifter working at its best you’ll need to do some inspection and basic maintenance tasks on the regular. Start by clearing the floor of wires, dirt and other types of debris to prevent the wheels from cracking. Also, regularly check if the chain is in the correct position as otherwise this will prevent you from lowering the prongs.
Adjust the lowering valve by loosening the valve screw and if the prongs are still not able to go down, slightly tighten the screw. Lubricate the wheels, the grease liftings and the axles of the pallet hand lifter on a monthly basis or after each cleaning. Also, make sure you change the hydraulic fluid annually and inspect it every six months too. A hand pallet lifter should be stored in an area that is not easily accessible by non-authorised personnel and that they are not in the way of other workers in your warehouse.
How to Add Hydraulic Fluid to a Hand Pallet Jack?
1. Start with the hand pallet truck parked on a flat surface with the release lever set on the lower position so that you have the prongs at the lowest possible height. Open the hydraulic fluid reservoir which is located at the base of the handle assembly right behind the hydraulic lifting piston and cylinder.
2. Pour in hydraulic fluid in the fill hole with a funnel and periodically remove the funnel to check the level of the fluid inside. The fluid level must go up to the bottom of the fill hole and not a drop over it.
3. Once that’s done, pump the jack about 10 to 15 times to bleed the fluid and to help remove any trapped air. Refill and pump the jack until you have the level inside stable at the bottom of the fill hole. When you are done, screw the plug and washer on the fill hole using a flat-head screwdriver and wipe off any excess fluid with a rag.