Electric Pallet Jack Safety: Tips & Tricks on the “Other” Forklift

Posted by: admin on July 29, 2015

In all the talk about forklift safety, electric pallet jacks sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Electric pallet jacks are used mainly in warehouses and other places that require pallet transportation. However, there’s no “lift” at all – the pallet jack only elevates the pallets enough to clear the ground.

So, do pallet jacks come with any hazards? Are the differences between forklifts and electric pallet jacks THAT different? As you’ll see, pallet jack safety practices are mostly common sense, with some specific equipment factors thrown in for good measure. But they’re still important. Learn more about pallet jack safety training and why it’s important for preventing a pallet jack accident.

Pallet Jacks – The Preferred Machine for Order Picking, Cargo Management & More

According to OSHA, pallet jacks are grouped with forklifts in the “powered industrial truck” category. But that’s where the similarities end. Both pallet jacks differ from forklifts in one primary regard – how they move cargo. While forklifts are able to hoist pallets and other cargo onto warehouse shelves, pallet jacks only lift pallets a few inches off the ground. Most pallet jacks consist of two following sections:

  • Operator area/cabin – located at the front of a pallet jack, this is where the operator stands and controls the equipment.
  • Forks – usually extending back from the operator area, most pallet jacks typically have two forks that lift pallets off the ground.

Pallet jacks are designed to lift pallets high enough for ground clearance only. Once a pallet jack operator has secured the pallets, embedde

pallet jack safety training

Pallet jack safety is just as important as forklift safety

d wheels lift the forks up a few inches, allowing the pallet jack to move. Pallet jacks are the most commonly used powered industrial truck for “order picking.” This occurs in warehouses. Workers receive an order sheet and use a pallet jack to gather the requested items on their pallets (located on the back of the pallet jack). Once the order is complete, the operator usually wraps the pallets in clear plastic (to prevent toppling). Then, the pallets are dropped off in a truck or placed near a dock.

Even though pallet jacks don’t lift cargo, there are still hazards associated with pallet jack use. That’s why pallet jack safety training is important for warehouse workers, order pickers, and anyone else who uses pallet jacks.

Here’s one more similarity between forklifts and pallet jacks: both types of powered industrial trucks require OSHA training. At CertifyMe, you’ll get the most complete, affordable pallet jack safety training available anywhere.

Let’s look at some different aspects of pallet jack safety training, including some examples of different hazards and how CertifyMe can help with your pallet jack safety training needs.

A Pallet Jack Accident is Possible

A pallet jack may seem much simpler and easier compared to operating a forklift, but accidents can still happen. They may be more likely to happen with a pallet jack because the operator may be less likely to take pallet jack safety protocols seriously. They might even be more casual with operational practices.

A pallet jack accident can occur when the operator isn’t aware of weight limitations, proper usage techniques, and their surrounding environment. Workers may not be aware of hazards nearby. These dangers include other workers, machines, and moving forklifts. When a pallet jack operator doesn’t know the correct limitations of the equipment, they are more at risk for being struck by and crushed by the machine, and the materials they’re handling.

According to OSHA’s records, many workers have been seriously injured by improper pallet jack safety. Some past accidents include one worker being fatally crushed by a falling load from a walk behind pallet jack when he moved from the driving position over to the forks to attend to the load. It’s unknown whether or not the load was stabilized properly.

Another worker had to have all four small toes on his left foot amputated when he was driving a pallet jack, dropped the pallet, and backed away directly into the path of an oncoming forklift. The forklift ran over the worker’s foot, crushing his toes.

Other accidents involve workers having their legs crushed, bones broken, and being pinned between pallet jacks and other objects. Without proper pallet jack safety training, workers aren’t prepared to recognize and avoid hazards, and the likelihood of a pallet jack accident isn’t too far off.

Pallet Jack Safety – 5 Important Tips              

  1. Don’t overload the machine. Similar to forklifts, mega-loads can be extremely unsafe. Check your electric pallet jack’s load specifications before using. This is one of the most important parts of pallet jack safety training. If you’re not sure, check with your safety supervisor.
  2. Ensure the cargo is secure. And for pallet jacks, that includes the pallets, not just the product on the pallets. Improper engagement of the pallets on the jack’s forks can result in a cracked or damaged pallet, and a pallet jack accident. If your pallet jack is lifting and you hear wood cracking or splintering sounds, there’s a good chance the forks weren’t aligned correctly. Check the pallet for damage.
  3. Watch your speed. See a theme developing here? You guessed it – this is another safety practice that applies to all industrial equipment. Even though pallet jacks have limited acceleration, too much speed could spell doom.
  4. Pay attention to warehouse entries and exits. Some warehouses have large plastic “flaps” for doors. Use caution when approaching. New drivers, not familiar with traffic flow, could accidentally exit and entry – or vice versa. Also, pay attention around corners. Two pallet jacks approaching a corner too fast is an accident waiting to happen.
  5. Maintenance is important. Today’s electric pallet jacks require regular battery charges and regular checkups. Much like forklifts, a pallet jack won’t perform like it should without regular maintenance.

Additional Pallet Jack Safety Tips to Prevent Accidents

In addition to the safety tips described above, there are other steps workers can take to prevent pallet jack accidents. The majority of pallet jack accidents can be prevented, but not without a few essential safety practices and the right pallet jack training for operators.

Here are a few more simple guidelines for preventing a pallet jack accident:

  • Never place feet underneath the pallet jack
  • Never pull the pallet jack, always push it, unless moving on an incline
  • Move in reverse down an incline
  • Be aware of pinch points to keep hands safe

Pallet Jack Safety Training from CertifyMe.net

For the best safety training around, CertifyMe.net has everything you’re looking for. We offer outstanding training modules for a variety of skill levels – beginners, experienced drivers and even experts. With OSHA fines for unsafe work practices in the tens of thousands of dollars, you can’t afford a failed audit or workplace accident. OSHA inspects workplaces, looking for any untrained operators, and that include workers who use pallet jacks. You can keep your workplace safe and avoid costly fines from OSHA with the pallet jack safety training from CertifyMe.net.

Invest only $299 into the OSHA-compliant program that you can use for life to train your workplace. Think of the thousands of dollars you can save by reducing the number of injuries and fatalities on your worksite, and the expensive equipment damages and reductions in your productivity that come with a pallet jack accident. We keep your workplace safe and efficient, so you can build your business and boost your bottom line.

In only about one hour from any device with the internet, workers can complete their pallet jack safety training and receive their forklift certification.

In addition to pallet jacks, you can also certify your workers in the following:

  • Warehouse Forklifts, Classes 1, 4, 5
  • Rough Terrain Forklifts, Class 7

Learn more about pallet jack certification to get your fleet on track with their safety program and get started today!  The CertifyMe pricing page has additional info about training programs, costs and more.

If you and your co-workers need pallet jack safety training, CertifyMe has all the training you need at prices you can’t pass up. What’s more, we offer lifetime support, free 3-year renewal training, and the flexibility to help with ever-changing OSHA regulations. It’s all part of your pallet jack safety training at CertifyMe! Don’t put off your pallet jack training. Contact CertifyMe at 1-888-699-4800 today!


This post was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2018 to provide additional pallet jack safety training information.


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