How to Handle Handcarts Safely
What’s at Stake?
It’s a rare workplace that doesn’t have some sort of handcart for moving stock and equipment. From wheelbarrows and furniture carts to dollies and pallet jacks, handcarts help do a job better and faster, and they help to prevent back injuries caused by lifting heavy items.
What’s the Danger?
Compared to a piece of heavy equipment, a handcart doesn’t seem like one of the big dangers of the workplace. But anyone who has ever operated one for any length of time will tell you there are a surprising number of ways to be injured.
Struck by falling loads.
Back strain if you move the handcart the wrong way or lift materials incorrectly.
Cuts and pinch points.
Foot injuries from hand trucks running over your foot.
Injuries caused when an operator loses control of the handcart on an incline.
How to Protect Yourself
- Inspect to Protect
Is it in good mechanical condition overall and are the brakes working? Tag and place faulty equipment out of service.
- Safe Stack
Keep the center of gravity low by putting heavier objects on the bottom. Use strapping to hold a load in place and keep load height low enough so you have a clear view ahead. Don’t exceed the weight capacity.
- Pay Attention!
Keep your feet clear of the wheels, even when loading. Stay alert to pinch point hazards to prevent injuries to your hands and stick to designated traffic lanes, and stop and look at intersections.
- Riding Not Allowed
Don’t ride on a cart made for a walking operator and never carry passengers.
- Push It!
Unless the cart is designed for pulling, push it. It’s easier on your back!
- Loading and Unloading
Bend your knees instead of your back and don’t pick up more than you can easily handle.
- Smooth Operator
Keep the handcart ahead of you when going down a hill. Stay away from the edges of loading docks or other platforms and make sure the dock plate and landing strip are wide enough to accommodate the cart’s wheels.
- PPE Please
Wear your PPE- gloves and safety shoes, and other PPE required to protect against the material being handled and other hazards.
- Free Parking
Park and store handcarts where they will not create tripping hazards.Don’t block exits or emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers.
Just as its name implies, a handcart is a handy piece of equipment. Following a few simple tips can help you use them safely.