Sack Trucks and Trolleys – Safe Handling
When considering the safe use of your sack truck or sack trolley, you need to focus not just on the sack truck itself but the other key areas that impact on its usage. These will be:
- the load you are transporting
- the environment in which you are using the sack truck
- the person who is using the sack truck
Taking each of these in turn we’ll look at the important factors that should be considered to ensure the safe use of your sack truck.
Or you can view our Sack Trucks and Sack Trolley Ranges here.
The sack truck
Select the right tool for the job. Sack trucks or hand trucks come in many forms, with different design variations being applied to address different applications. For example in our own AluTruk range we have sack trucks designed specifically for; Keg Handling, Food And Drink Delivery, Grocery Home Delivery, White Goods Delivery, Basic Warehouse applications and Courier Deliveries to name just a few!
This means selecting the correct sack truck for your requirements is an important consideration and will certainly make using the sack truck much safer and easier. Using the wrong type of sack truck is likely to cause problems and increase the risk of avoidable accidents and damage to both people and goods.
A second key consideration in the safe use of your sack truck is to check that you are not exceeding the manufacturers stated safe operating limits of the sack truck. A sack truck designed to carry 300kg safely should not be used to shift 500kg loads. That is simply asking for trouble.
As a guide we would recommend that you should generally operate at 20% less than the stated capacity – as this will obviously keep you well within the safe operating limits and also your sack truck will perform better and last longer.
Regular Equipment Checks. In an ideal world you would always have a process in place for checking the “health” of your sack truck before use.
- Handles – make sure they are safe. Check any bends, joins or welds for signs of cracking, rusting or other indicators of excessive wear, damage or potential failure
- Toe Plate – (aka foot or nose plate). Check the integrity of the toe plate carefully. Look for any bending of the plate – this will indicate that the sack truck has been exposed to an excessive force and / or there may be damage or wear on the joins and welds.
- Tyres – check the treads on the tyres and the tyre pressures. Over or under-inflating the tyres will impact on performance of the sack truck and could compromise safe handling.
- Wheels – check for excessive play in the wheels which could indicate undue wear on the bearings. Make sure the bearings are greased sufficiently .Check around the axel and examine the wheels for cracks or fractures. Make sure any wheel nuts or split pin fixings are secure. Check that nothing is impeding the rotation of the wheels – small stones, bits of metal and grit for example.
- Axel – check for signs of bending, rust or the start of fractures. The axel is a key load bearing component – it has a hard life.
- Other fittings – check that they are functional and operating correctly. Examine them for any signs of excessive wear and tear – cracking, bending, chaffing etc.
Tedious though this checking process might be, it could save you from experiencing problems or even an accident with the sack truck which may cost you a lot more in delays, disruption and money than five minutes of time before use.
We can provide a full range of hand truck parts and spares to extend the life of your sack truck or even to adapt or improve your existing hand truck. (Applies to our AluTruk range.)
The Sack Trolley Load
As stated above – make sure that the sack truck you are using is capable of handling the loads that you wish to move. There will likely be a specific ally designed sack truck for whatever it is that you are handling.
That said there are also some common sense rules that should be applied to help you to safely move your load from A to B:
- Don’t exceed the recommended load capacity
- Consider weight distribution – don’t stack heavier items on top of lighter ones or wider items on top of narrower ones – and if you are shifting something that weighs heavier on one side than the other ( a fridge is the classic example here ) make sure the heavier side goes against the back rest of the sack truck.
- Make sure the load is not impeding the operation of the sack truck – e.g. rubbing on the wheels, dragging on the floor, obstructing the operator from holding the handles correctly.
- Can one person move this load – safely? You really must answer this question honestly. Trying to save time by using one person on what should be a two person job can have serious consequences resulting in much more time lost and money spent than if two people had done that task.
- Will the load move when in transit? Consider this one carefully – will the packaging around the product hold the load securely or could it start to crumple, bend or fold when stacked or in transit. Transporting liquid loads is definitely one to think about – a sudden stop by the sack truck will not be matched by the liquid load – that will still try to keep moving forward. Correctly securing liquid loads is essential to safe sack truck usage.
AluTruk supplies sack trucks specifically designed to shift liquid loads safely and efficiently. See our Keg Handling and Water Bottle sack trucks.
The Operating Environment
Consideration of the environment in which your sack truck will be working is extremely important. It may be dry in the warehouse with a level, flat floor surface on which your sack truck works well but take it outside that environment and on to the streets – with kerbs, uneven pavement surfaces, steps, doors and other hazards – and then add in wind, rain, ice and busy distracted pedestrians (let alone impatient traffic) and you have a very different scenario – one which your trusty warehouse sack truck just cannot cope with.
This is why consideration of the operating environment is so important and making sure that you have the correct sack truck to cope safely with that is crucial to safe sack truck use.
At AluTruk we are aware of all of the difficulties and obstacles that can impede safe sack truck use and therefore we have designed adaptations and enhancements to our sack truck range to overcome these challenges. For example;
- if you work in an environment that frequently requires you to climb up stairs – invest in stair climber sack trucks and make life easier and safer.
- Rough terrain? If you have to cope with shifting loads over uneven, rough terrain make sure you are using the correct sack truck wheels for the prevalent surface conditions.
- Street deliveries will typically mean that kerbs will be an issue. In that case make sure you take a portable kerb ramp out with you.
The Human Element
This is the fourth but clearly the most important element to consider when looking to use sack trucks safely.
Physical Demands – The first consideration must be whether the operator physically capable of using the equipment – and not just once or twice but consistently as required throughout the day. Depending on the loads being shifted it will require a certain level of strength to operate the sack truck safely. Depending on the amount of work and the weight of the loads being shifted you may need to schedule in breaks and recovery time for the operators.
Properly Equipped – you must consider if the operator is properly equipped, both personally – with appropriate gloves, safety boots, hi viz clothing etc. and also with the equipment they require to secure and move the loads safely e.g. suitable straps, kerb ramps, door stops (for holding doors open) etc.
Properly Trained – this is a must for your own legal protection in the event of an accident involving the use of the sack truck. On the face of it it’s a simple tool but the potential for serious injury if it is misused is significant. You should have a basic training course that is given to anyone using the sack truck. This of course will include making them aware of the dangers of incorrect usage – e.g. some or all of the things discussed in this article (N.B. This is not your training course though! Other things not listed here may need to be included.)
Operator or Operators? Some tasks might require two people to fulfil it safely. Cutting corners to save time or costs is one of the main reasons behind accidents. In the long term all the time and money saved by cutting corners can be wiped out and more in one accident.
Over Worked and Under Pressure – consider the work load or work schedule that is being applied to the operator. Unrealistic expectations in this area can lead to mistakes being made and accidents occurring due to fatigue or rushing to meet deadlines. The saying “more haste less speed” is generally true. In the medium to long term, realistic, achievable workloads/schedules will benefit everyone; the business, the employees and the customers.
Tired, stressed workers are typically much less productive, less customer friendly and more accident prone.
At BIL Group we specialise in designing, manufacturing and supplying high quality Materials Handling equipment. If you have any requirements to safely move, store and handle goods and products of any size, volume or description please don’t hesitate to ask how we could help you.
We have assisted many many companies, large and small, with their specific materials handling requirements saving them both time and money in the process.
Contact us today. We’d be delighted to hear from you. Work safely!