Companies in the manufacturing industry have found a common problem – musculoskeletal injuries. These injuries are mostly associated with manual handling of equipment and relocating palletised products in the workplace. This results in costly medical expenses and wages for recompensed employees yearly.
This has increased the need for material handling equipment greatly. There are a range of products that have been specifically designed to assist with heavy lifting and reduce the risk of injuries in the workplace. These products include auxiliary components and pallet lifts.
Become more of an expert on the topic, so you can make smarter choices for your workplace environment—whether manager, owner or employee.
What is the Difference Between a Pallet Lift and a Forklift?
Forklifts are much larger in scale compared to pallet lifts or pallet jacks and are meant for larger loads. What makes them better at handling heavier loads, is their counterweight. Forklifts rely on the counterbalance principle. However, pallet jacks are often regarded as being safer than forklifts.
Safety Guidelines for Using the Equipment
As with any heavy-duty pieces of equipment, there are certain safety hazards that all operations should be aware of including:
- Property damage: Undergoing training on how to properly operate pallet jacks is crucial to avoid incidents where a driver can cause damage to the workplace property.
- Foot injuries: On a site where heavy-duty equipment is used, it’s crucial for all workers to wear the appropriate safety gear such as safety boots and hard hats.
- Back trauma: Back injuries can happen while operating a pallet jack or lift. To avoid back injuries, always maintain good posture when operating this machinery.
- Should strain or dislocation: Pulling a pallet jack too forcefully can result in the dislocation or strain of your shoulder.
- Pallet lifts don’t have brakes: Most pallet lifts on the market don’t have brakes installed because they operate with a hydraulic system. They do however have a throttle that enables them to be slowed down.
All employees should be familiar with the safety risks associated with operating heavy-duty machinery.
Forklift and Pallet Lift Training
No matter what piece of heavy-duty equipment you choose to use in your workplace, it’s essential that all operators undergo the required training to ensure safe and effective operations on site. These types of training programs generally include:
- Appropriate safety gear: As mentioned above, all operators should be provided with the correct safety gear such as hard hats, safety boots, and reflective jackets.
- Regular maintenance: Carrying out regular maintenance of your equipment ensures that it is safe and reliable to use. Well-maintained equipment generally has longer lifespans.
- Daily inspections: It is vital that a worker inspects the piece of equipment he or she is about to use with every shift change to ensure that there is no damage or malfunctioning.
- Preventing injuries and incidents: Practicing safe work methods ensures the safety of all employees in the workplace and can help prevent injury.
Companies that choose not to undergo training but still operate these machines can be heavily fined.
Which One Do I Need for My Material Handling?
Both pieces of machinery—pallet lifts and forklifts—have their advantages and disadvantages. The load amount you’re required to manage will be the main deciding factor on which one you need.
Pallet lifts or jacks are excellent for lighter loads and working with materials on or close to floors. Forklifts, on the other hand, are much more versatile. They have a wider range and can reach higher heights than pallet lifts. For this reason, they are unfortunately much more expensive.
Know Your Equipment
It is important to always know the limits and capabilities of the machinery you’re about to operate. Don’t push your equipment beyond the load limit it’s designed to carry. Getting the job done quicker is of no use if it results in injury or possibly even death.
Not all standard training programs cover the operation of all machinery, so every worker needs training on the equipment relevant to their job description, to avoid any accidents from happening. This could also be helpful in cases where there is an accident, and a nearby colleague knows how to intervene and assist.
Signs That Your Forklift or Pallet Lift is Failing
Regular maintenance puts you one step ahead of mechanical failure because of wear and tear. Still, equipment will still break down from time to time. Here are some signs that your forklift or pallet lift needs some attention:
- Unfamiliar noises or smells
- Failure to start
- Warning lights are on
If your equipment displays any of the above signs, it’s best to pull it off the job and attend to these issues before they become major problems.
Evaluate your workload to decide which equipment piece is best for the job. Using the right equipment for the right task is what ensures productivity and prevents accidents. Always put safety first and have open communication with all other workers in your surroundings.