What is a Pallet Jack and How Are They Used?

Pallet jacks and electric pallet jacks are used in warehouses, distribution hubs, fulfillment centers and similar workplaces to manage all types of cargo. But what is a pallet jack, exactly? Training can help answer this question. If your company uses pallet jacks, you must provide proper, OSHA-approved pallet jack certification. And ForkliftCertification.com (FLC) can help your employees learn how to operate a pallet jack. Sign up today!

Just What is a Pallet Jack, Anyway?

So what is a pallet jack, you might ask? Similar to a forklift, a pallet jack moves pallets. Unlike a forklift, pallet jacks only lift pallets and cargo a few inches off the floor. Pallet jacks are available in 3 major configurations:

Non-motorized – pushed and pulled by operator, includes a hydraulic pump to lift forks

Motorized – driven by operator, pallet forks are in front or behind driver.

Electric – this pallet jack runs on a battery.

Another type (though much less common) of pallet jack is the rough terrain pallet jack, used by construction crews and similar groups for uneven terrain. Some rough terrain pallet jacks can lift over 7,000 pounds!

Most pallet jacks are either batter powered or hand-operated. If you’ve ever been to Walmart, Home Depot or Lowe’s (and who hasn’t?), you’ve probably noticed employees using hand-operated pallet jacks to move pallets around.

Because they’re typically less expensive than regular forklifts are require less maintenance, pallet jacks are widely used throughout a variety of industries – retail, logistics, transportation and much more. Pallet jacks are classified as Class III: Electric Motor Hand Trucks or Hand/Rider Trucks by OSHA. Given the wide range of applications of these powerful machines, it’s no surprise that operators must earn their pallet jack certification before using them on the job.

How to Operate a Pallet Jack

Now that you know exactly what is a pallet jack, you may be curious about how they work. Pallet jack operation is fairly easy, but certification is required to avoid accident and serious injuries. For hand-operated pallet jacks, workers must first locate the release lever. Move the pallet jack towards the load you want to move, then engage the lever to lower the prongs. Next, slide the forks underneath the pallet and jack it up. The prongs should be fully off the ground before you move again.

The same principle applies to motorized and electric pallet jacks. Start by identifying the controls and lowering the prongs. Use the controls to maneuver the prongs into the pallet. Once it is secured on the pallet jack, move the load to your desired location. Upon arrival, press the “down” button to lower the pallet to the ground. Always be sure to charge the electric pallet jack after you finish using it.

Everyone in your organization that drives a pallet jack requires OSHA approved pallet jack certification. Without training & certification, your employees are more likely to have accidents. Plus, in the event of an accident or injury, the lack of certification leaves you open to heavy fines and penalties.

Pallet Jack Certification Requirements

As an employer, you need to provide pallet jack certification. With FLC, you have all the tools and resources necessary to handle your certification!

Pallet jacks are governed by OSHA guideline 1910.178, which covers all powered industrial trucks. FLC’s training material covers all the critical safety concepts required by OSHA, as our staff has plenty of real-world experience with OSHA regulations.

 Our regular training course (the Training Kit) reviews safe driving practices, stresses common-sense safety and allows each student to compete the classroom portion of training at their own pace. Afterwards, an employer evaluation ensures the worker is able to safely and efficiently operate the pallet jack. We also offer the Train a Trainer course, which helps any worker become a fully qualified trainer. If you’re eager to teach your entire organization about what is a pallet jack, combine these two resources and save with our handy Bundle Package.

Pallet Jack Training FAQs

If you’re still feeling confused about pallet jack training requirements or are unsure how to earn your operator’s license, allow us to clarify by answering a few frequently asked questions on the topic:

Is Pallet Jack Training Difficult?

While you might assume that learning to use a pallet jack is difficult, the reality is far different. Our training modules make it easy to master the pallet jack in a single afternoon. The most important thing you’ll learn is pallet jack safety. Once you’re familiar with safety best practices and know how to avoid many of the most common workplace accidents, you’ll have no problem completing training.

Why Can’t I Just Use a Pallet Jack Without Training?

While there’s nothing stopping a person from using a pallet jack without a license, the consequences can be expensive and even deadly. If OSHA performs an inspection and finds an unlicensed employee using a pallet jack, they can fine the business thousands of dollars. Even if an organization manages to skirt OSHA fines, they’re still jeopardizing employee safety by allowing an unlicensed worker behind the wheel. To avoid injuries, accidents, and unnecessary fines, complete pallet jack safety training before getting to work.

How Much Can a Pallet Jack Lift?

Pallet jack capacity ranges from 1,500 to 2,500 pounds, depending on the model. There are heavy duty pallet jacks that can carry as much as 5,500 pounds. Always ready the manufacturer’s guide before attempting to load a pallet jack. Overloading it can jeopardize your pallet jack safety.

Get Pallet Jack Safety Training Now

The consequences for skipping pallet jack certification are severe. First and foremost, it endangers your employees. Plus, your company is subject to heavy fines and penalties in the event of an accident.

An OSHA audit will identify training gaps – and as an employer, you’re ultimately responsible. Fines can easily exceed $100,000. A survey by our sister company, CertifyMe.net, found that more than half of the companies surveyed had their safety plan inspected by OSHA. Another 85 were fined, with most fines over $100,000!

Don’t take chances with your safety program. Sign up with FLC today and give your employees the training they deserve – and the peace of mind you can’t put a price tag on! Thanks for considering FLC for your pallet jack certification needs! We look forward to helping you become OSHA compliant and your employees receive their forklift operators’ licenses! If you have more questions or need assistance, please call us at (888) 278-8896 and one of our OSHA-compliance experts will be happy to assist you!

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