Manual Handling and the Use of Manual Pallet Trucks

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Written by: Alcumus
7th November

In providing manual pallet trucks, employers can often overlook their obligations towards health and safety requirements contained within the:

  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)

 When questioned, it is quite common to find that employees using these manual handling aids have not received manual handling training or any specific training in the use of this relatively simple piece of equipment, as the employer did not perceive this as a requirement. Also, adequate maintenance of this type of equipment is often overlooked.
The definition of manual handling within the regulations states that:
'Manual handling operations' means any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or by bodily force.
Obviously, the use of a manually powered pallet truck involves transporting loads by pushing and / or pulling of the load using bodily force and therefore the regulations will apply. Furthermore, guidance within the manual handling regulations also states that it is essential that where, for example, mechanical handling aids are available, training is provided in their proper use.
This is reinforced by PUWER, that stipulates training in the use of the work equipment and also that an adequate regime is in place to ensure that maintenance is carried out in order that the work equipment remains safe for use.
Every employer needs to ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training for purposes of health and safety. This requirement extends to the use of manual pallet trucks. The health and safety press have reported recently on the case of a leading supermarket retailer being fined £1,000,000 for an accident involving a pallet truck that ran over and crushed an employee’s foot.
All employers need to ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair. A way of fulfilling this obligation is to have in place arrangements for routine maintenance. It’s not enough to put things right when they fail or break down.  
In conclusion, if you use manual pallet trucks as part of your operations then you have responsibilities to train the people using the equipment and ensure that the equipment is subject to a routine maintenance regime.
For further information on this subject please speak to your health and safety consultant or contact us on 01484 439 920.