Manual pallet jacks are quite easy to use. A manual pallet jack consists of a small frame that supports two low forks that are designed to fit under a pallet. A handle, or tiller, connected to the frame provides a method to push or pull the jack, to steer it, and a way to hydraulically elevate the forks. One can operate a pallet jack by following the below-mentioned instructions and animations -

1. Locate Release Lever

Locate the release lever on the pallet jack's handle.

Stand behind the pallet jack with your hands on the metal steering handle, toward the prongs, which are facing outward. The prongs are the two horizontal pieces of metal which will actually lift the pallets. Locate the plastic release lever on the handle; this is usually found attached to the center bar. It may be a different color in order to make it stand out, but if not it should still be obvious.

2. Move to the Pallet and Press the Lever

Animation showing the prongs of a pallet jack lowering after the release lever is engages.

Move the pallet jack to whatever you want to move and engage the lever to lower the prongs. Next, push the pallet jack over to the pallet you would like to move. Press the release lever up and inward to lower the prongs to about one-inch off of the ground. If the prongs are already lowered, they will not move when you press the lever.

3. Slide the Prongs Under the Pallet to Load

Animation showing a pallet jack being moved under a pallet.

Once the prongs have been completely lowered, you can slide them underneath the pallet you would like to move. If they are still too high to easily slide under the pallet, they may not be lowered all the way and you should press the release lever again. Make sure you push the prongs all the way through the underside of the pallet so that the wheels are resting on the floor and not on any part of the pallet.

4. Jack Up the Pallet

Animation showing the prongs of the pallet jack lifting up the pallet.

Once the prongs are positioned underneath the pallet, pull the metal handle and the entire center bar toward you at an angle. You should feel some resistance and notice the prongs slowly lift up the pallet. Repeat this several times so that the prongs are far enough off the floor not to drag.


How to safely operate a manual pallet jack?

Next: How to operate an Electric Pallet Jack

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