Wondering if there is a simple formula to determine when a motorized pallet jack is indicated vs. manual pallet jack. Our back dock is small but we move a lot of product in/out, sometimes pallets are quite heavy with medical equipment. distance is not far (less than 40′ total) and volume overall fairly small (12-15 pallets/day). thank you, theresa
The three main issues here, in order of severity, will probably be manoeuvring (Australian spelling) pallets in limited space, getting pallets moving from stationary, and pulling pallets over a distance – but only if there are lumps and bumps to get over on the way. While there are not many pallets to move in a day, there can be a lot of pushing, pulling and turning in trying to get a pallet to where you want it, ready for moving elsewhere. This may also involve getting other pallets out of the way, which adds to the burden.
I don’t know of any formula to tell you when you need to go to a motorised pallet jack. I believe you will have to make a subjective judgement based on what the workers tell you. If they’re finding the work difficult and onerous, or if they’re finding that they have to apply high force to move the pallets (especially when manoeuvring them, as this often requires twisting and asymmetrical pulling and pushing), or if moderate force is required, but with some repetition, the work is likely to be exposing them to risk, and the job should be redesigned.
The other tell-tale sign of course is if workers are feeling sore after doing this work – particularly in the lower back, neck, shoulders, arms and/or wrists.
You should also take note of what they are doing the rest of the time. If they’re packing or unpacking pallets, the risk is likely to be exacerbated.
Options other than a motorised pallet jack include getting assistance for moving the pallets, and ensuring that the current pallet jacks are in good order. It might also be possible to have more pallets, with less loaded onto each. It might also be possible to break down the pallets where they are, using trolleys or similar to move the goods to where they are needed.
We made a decision to purchase an electric pallet jack when it became apparent that the employee had to use too much force to push his jack from the back loading dock over a door threshold into the main kitchen of a university dining commons. The threshold would have been too costly to change. He has been a very happy camper since he has had the electric version. However, understand that OSHA requires initial training by an experienced lift operator for employees to use these and every three years after-just like any other electric lift.
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