Problems with Pushing/Pulling Limits Using a Pallet Jack

posted on: Thursday March 3, 2016

s1Pallet jacks are commonly used in manual material handling, and almost as often, operators run into frustrating, if not dangerous, challenges working with them. Unfortunately, even when employees attempt to use them safely, coworkers and bosses can create problems by overloading and leaving the operator to handle too big a load alone.

We found an inquiry on the OSHA website that demonstrates this common problem. From this link, the question is posed:

“I have a friend who delivers heavy pallets by the use of a pallet jack. He must push the pallets on to a hydraulic lift gate on his truck, lower the load and then push/pull it to a designated point, up to 100 yards from the truck. It is not unusual for the pallets to hold up to 2300 lbs. He is very frustrated by his co-workers/boss overloading the pallets to the point where he has to ask for help at delivery points. Is there an OSHA limit as to how much he should be required to handle by himself?”

The OSHA expert who responds has 20 years experience in management of occupational safety, health and workers` compensation and safety training. He shines a light on how difficult a situation this friend is in:

“No – there is not “A” number.  There are recommended guidelines that a compliance officer may use if the situation deems it necessary.  However, this is not something that routinely happens.  There are some very sophisticated and complex formulas used to calculate the loads and forces involved in lifting, calculations which would require actual measurements of the factors involved.”

As the expert suggested, the needed information can be vague. He offers this suggestion:

“One approach to resolving this problem might be to involve an outside ‘consultant’ from the company’s insurance carrier and to agree upon a limit and guidelines for pallet sizes and weights to reduce the potential for employee injury and expensive compensation claims which could result from excesses.  The old saying regarding ‘an ounce of prevention vs. a pound of cure’ could well apply.”

This situation definitely calls for immediate action. The likelihood of injury and a worker’s compensation claim is extremely high. However, from a productivity standpoint, a company may worry about what it costs to get less work done in the same amount of time.

Another solution would be to replace the pallet jack with a cart and tug system. The tugger is designed to overcome the “Draw-bar Pull” requirements associated with heavy loads with inclines and other factors the expert referred to in his answer. With this kind of system, one person can actually handle more than the 2300 pounds (if practical) and not risk injury or fatigue.

For more about solutions to replace your pallet jack and optimize your pushing/pulling tasks, contact Load Mover Inc. We will help you determine your “Draw-bar Pull” and other factors to conclude what kind of a power tug would most benefit your business. Improve your productivity and safety by calling 952-767-1720 or email us at