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Safe Use of Sack Trucks

The simple sack truck is a good addition to any workplace that involves the carrying or moving of boxes or items. This will help to reduce the risk of injury to your workforce from manual handling as well as improve productivity.

Manual Handling Injuries

More than a third of injuries reported every year are the result of manual handling, i.e. the supporting or transporting of loads by bodily force or by hand.

Hit By Moving Vehicle – 2%

Falls – 4%

Hit By Falling Objects – 13%

Other – 20%

Trips – 23%

Handling – 38%

Check List

Before using a sack truck or any other type of handling aid please check the following points: Is the equipment the correct type for the job?

  • Check to see if the wheels run freely.
  • Is the device well maintained? (The law requires that equipment is well maintained)
  • Is the wheel type suitable for the floor surface, ie Wheel diameter, Tyre type (solid or pneumatic).
  • Are the hand grips comfortable and in good order?
  • Are the handles between waist and shoulder height?
  • If the truck is fitted with brakes, do they work?
  • Is the recommended load capacity suitable for the load to be moved?
  • Is the load unstable or heavy? Use a load strap to secure the item.
  • Force Required

    The amount of bodily force that is required to move an object over a level flat surface using a well maintained sack truck or similar handling aid is approximately 2% of the load weight. Example: If the weight of a load is 400kg then the force required to move it will be 8kg. If the conditions are not perfect such as the device being in poor working order or the wheels not being in the correct position then the required force may be much larger. Remember that an operator must always try and push rather than pull the load providing that they have clear line of sight over it and can also control the stopping and steering of the truck.

    Moving Items On Slopes

    When trying to negotiate a ramp or slope with a load the employee should always try to enlist the help of another worker whenever necessary as the pulling or pushing force required can be very high. Example: If the same 400kg load used in the previous example was to be moved up a slope of 1 in 12 (5°), then the force required increases to around 30kg even in perfect conditions, i.e. smooth surface and good wheels. This is above the recommended guideline for men and well above the weight guideline for women.

    Soft or Uneven Surfaces

    When using a hand truck or similar handling aid on soft or uneven surfaces then the force required is much higher. On an uneven surface this force increase could be as high as 10% of the load weight, although using larger wheels may offset this to some extent. The force required for soft ground may be even worse than that of uneven ground.

    Stance and Speed of Pace

    Operators should always go no faster than walking speed and keep their feet well away from the load carried. This will make it easier to push and stop them becoming tired too quickly.

    Force Guidelines for Pushing and Pulling

    Force to stop or start a load. Men – 20kg Women – 15kg

    Constant force required to keep load in motion. Men – 10kg Women – 7kg

    General Precautions

    Operators should minimize and be aware of the following hazards

    • When moving loads on dock platforms, dock plates/bridges, inclines or uneven surfaces please ensure the running wheels of the truck are away from the edges.
    • Be aware of other tucks, obstacles and obstructions to prevent the possibility of collision.
    • Try to purchase or fit trucks with knuckle guards on the hand grips to reduce the risk of trapping the operator’s hands between the truck and other objects.
    • Keep the loads centre of gravity as low as possible.
    • When moving multiple objects or boxes. Place the lighter objects above the heavier objects.
    • Ensure that the load is balanced so that the weight is taken on the axel and not the handles.
    • Restrict the height of the load to allow for a clear view ahead of you.
    • Use trucks designed for the purpose at hand, i.e. curved back trucks for carrying drums or cylinders, high back straight back sack trucks for white goods etc.
    • Let the truck take the weight of the load as the operator should only push and balance the truck.



    Source by Fred Doherty

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