Moving materials and packages around your workplace by hand can be very taxing, leading to strains and potential injuries. For that reason, many managers get hand trucks that are simple to use and eliminate stress from employees. Even if the weight isn’t heavy, constantly bending and lifting can lead to back problems. Hand trucks come in a wide range of designs and can be made of a variety of materials. Finding the proper hand truck depends on the type of loads you’re moving. Hand trucks come in three basic categories – convertible, upright and specialty.
Upright hand trucks are suitable for loads up to 250kg. However, there are some heavy-duty models that can withstand higher loads. Convertible hand trucks feature 4 instead of 2 wheels, and you can use them like a trolley or cart. Specialty trolleys are designed for specific loads like furniture, machinery, packages, etc. As with any material handling equipment, there are different types of hand trucks to choose from.
Types of Hand Trucks
Platform Hand Trucks
Before you set out to buy hand truck, you need to know what type would best suit your needs so that you know what to look for. Platform hand trucks are the most basic type, and they’re just a platform on 4 wheels that allows you to carry light to medium loads. While there may be some heavy-duty models that allow for more, the typical platform truck is capable of carrying loads up to 300kg.
Push Hand Trucks
Push trucks are almost the same as platform trucks, except they feature a handle that helps you move it around easy. With a handle, navigation is much simpler. Just like platform hand trucks, push hand trucks come with different load capacities. Some models come foldable handles that make the truck easier to transport and store.
Upright Hand Trucks
Warehouses often have to deal with heavy and tall boxes that are hard to load on push or platform hand trucks. Upright hand trucks are a type of specialty truck that can move less weight, but it provides more balance over the wheels and allows you to just walk forward in order to maneuver and carry around the load.
Multi-Level Hand Trucks
If you need to move a lot of small items, multi-level hand trucks are your best choice. There are 2 level and 3 level models, and they’re typically used in retail or for fast restocking in warehouses. Some models come with anti-slip surfaces that prevent your items from slipping over when you’re carrying them over uneven surfaces.
Foldable Hand Trucks
Foldable trucks are best suited for people transporting materials frequently. By being foldable, the dimensions of the truck are lowered, allowing you to fit in in a compartment, car, truck or storage area. There are some foldable hand trucks that feature anti-finger-snaps, preventing injuries when the truck is folded.
Cage Hand Trucks
A lot of people buy hand truck surrounded by a cage simply because it’s extra insurance against things falling off. While a conventional push truck or platform truck can get the job done fine, if you feel like you need extra security when transporting fragile items, cage hand trucks are second to none. This type of hand truck provides full side protection, helping items stay in place. There are also multi-level hand truck models with cages on each level.
Safety Measures When Using Hand Trucks
Handling large loads with a hand truck still poses risks if you aren’t using them properly. You can easily avoid accidents if you follow several safety measures. For instance, only use two-wheel trucks when handling lighter loads, and make sure the weight is evenly distributed on all wheels. This is also important for 4-wheel hand trucks with side railings. Inspect the centre ladder section, vertical bars and crossbars every time you use the truck for damage and wear. Furthermore, check all the welds when moving loads. Keep in mind, the truck should never be pulled. When maneuvering 4-wheel trucks, never upend them, and whenever possible, break the larger loads down into smaller loads. If you’re transporting large and heavy items, secure them with nylon belts. You can also use a ratchet belt to prevent loads from slipping or shifting. If your journey includes stairs, use a stair crawler.
A lot of people don’t use personal protective equipment when handling hand trucks. Even though they help you with moving the load, there may be other hazards in the work area that can lead to accidents. For that reason, make sure you always wear your PPE, which typically includes leather gloves for handling heavy and large objects with sharp or rough edges, a back belt that supports your lower back while pushing truck with heavy loads, protective footwear to prevent foot injuries like falling objects or sharp materials. The footwear may need special protective features like anti-slip soles, steel hammer protection, etc.