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Challenging 3 common myths about PPT safety

PPT Safety

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Though every bit as popular as larger counterbalance and reach trucks, powered pallet movers are often downplayed when it comes to accident risk and the training required to reduce it.

But with some powered pallet trucks (PPTs) weighing more than a small car, it’s vital that those responsible for their use understand how to do so safely.

To get to the root of the issue, we explore some of the common myths contributing to perceptions of PPT safety, and challenge them…

Myth #1: Powered pallet truck operation involves little to no risk

Many people believe there is little risk involved with the use of pallet trucks. Perhaps this is related to their stature. PPTs are smaller than other lift trucks, have no cab, and are controlled by the operator walking beside the truck using a tiller arm. Or, perhaps people are more comfortable with them because they occasionally see them, even share the same aisle space with them, when they go shopping.

But, however commonplace, the truth is that PPTs can soon cause serious accidents and costly damage in untrained hands. Though smaller in size than counterbalance and reach trucks, they too have the ability to cause life changing injuries if used incorrectly.

Unsafe PPT operation often causes injuries to lower limbs. Pedestrian varieties can inadvertently contact lower legs or be pulled over feet and toes, causing operators serious crush or entrapment injuries under the truck. Indeed, in recent years, a leading retailer was fined £1m when an operator fractured every toe on one foot after an accident in which an electric-powered pallet truck rolled backwards over it.

The assumption that pallet trucks pose little to no risk must be addressed throughout the workforce, for the good of your team and your business.

Myth #2: There is little difference between one pallet truck and the next

Another misconception stems from a lack of understanding around the variations of pallet trucks on the market (and their associated categorisation). Generally speaking, there is little awareness of the vast range available and, as a result, similar looking trucks can be pigeonholed as one and the same.

However, with each make and model having varied controls, components and functions, misidentification can mean inadvertently overlooking hazards unique to a specific variant.

There are pedestrian, rider and flip down platform variants, and all with varying purposes and a range of power sources. A good understanding of these variations will help ensure that you don’t fall foul of another common myth – that being trained on one type qualifies you to operate them all.

To help ensure the provision of relevant training for the many variants, pallet trucks are grouped into standardised categories by the Accrediting Bodies Association (ABA). Training on each category will need to include specific features which may not be relevant to another variant, so, for the safety of your operations, understanding these groupings (and therefore which trucks operators are qualified to use) is vital.

Myth #3: PPT training is not a legal requirement

As we’ve seen, with so many different variants available, one course does not fit all trucks. But there is another, more ominous, myth surrounding PPT training – that it is not required at all.

Despite the common misconception, pallet truck training is not optional – it is a firm requirement for safety and compliance.

Serious accidents occur all too often involving MHE and, tragically, most are entirely avoidable. By undergoing the proper training, operators can ensure they have the skills and knowledge to use this equipment safely, reducing the risk of accidents and incidents.

Not only does training provide a business with confidence that its operations are going to function in a safe and efficient manner, but it also helps it to ensure that they are meeting their legal requirements. PUWER 1998 specifies that employers must provide adequate training for anyone using work equipment, and this includes pallet trucks. This should cover how it’s used, the associated risks and precautions to take and, for assurances that it will meet all necessary industry standards, look for a provider delivering training to an accredited standard.

Indeed, quality is key. While sometimes perceived as sufficient and perhaps time-saving, informal training or video-based courses alone can leave PPT operators at risk of dangerous knowledge gaps and your operations open to accidents.

A good understanding of the equipment you are dealing with is ultimately required to ensure the people using it, and those around them, can remain safe and your operations remain compliant and productive. Dispel the myths surrounding PPT safety and make sure you understand the real risks affecting your operations.

To find out more about training for your pallet truck operators, please click here or contact us to discuss.

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