How to Operate a Manual Pallet Jack

More than a few warehouse workers and other people who need to move goods have found themselves confused with one of the simpler staples of an industrial environment: the hand or manual pallet jack. Pallet jacks are built to effectively transport the rough wooden platforms know as pallets or skids that so often contain all of the goods arriving from a truck at a warehouse or retail facility. Some simple steps will help a newbie sort through the challenges of how to operate a manual pallet jack well.


  1. Image titled Operate a Manual Pallet Jack Step 1
    Find the release lever. Stand behind the manual pallet jack as this is the position you will be in when you move it. Find the small lever that allows the pallet jack prongs (the large flat metal pieces near the floor) to drop all the way down toward the floor.
    • The pallet jack drop lever is often a small lever in the middle of the rounded handle, on the vertical stem of the manual machine. It may be distinguished by a different color of plastic, or otherwise marked, or it may not be.
  2. Image titled Operate a Manual Pallet Jack Step 2
    Push inward on the drop lever to lower the prongs. If the prongs are already completely lowered, you will not see them move. The prongs should only be an inch or two from the floor.
  3. Image titled Operate a Manual Pallet Jack Step 3
    Put the prongs underneath the skid or pallet. You will see when approaching the skid whether or not the product will fit underneath. If they will not fit, the machine has not been lowered sufficiently, so try to push again on the drop lever.
  4. Image titled Operate a Manual Pallet Jack Step 4
    Use the handle to jack up the pallet jack. When the prongs are under the skid, pull the vertical stem toward you, away from the pallet and toward the floor in a diagonal motion. You should feel the pallet jack (and the pallet) slowly rising against the pressure of gravity.
  5. 5
    Check to make sure that the pallet jack is not on the cross wood of the skid, front wheels must be on the floor. If the wheels are on the cross wood this will stop the jack from going up and also stop it from rolling.
    • Make sure that the pallet is jacked up from the floor before moving the manual pallet jack.
  6. Image titled Operate a Manual Pallet Jack Step 5
    Move the pallet jack. When it looks and feels like the pallet is sufficiently raised so that it will not drag, pull on the pallet jack handle to move the raised pallet in any one direction. Alternately, users can push against the pallet when it's time to move the pallet up over a lift gate or onto a truck.


  • Wear appropriate footwear. A wrong turn with a manual pallet jack can cause contact with your feet. Many industrial jobs require steel toed boots to protect the worker against harm. In any case, don't try to operate a manual pallet jack wearing heels or other footwear that can cause the operator to walk in a less stable way. By the same token, make sure not to wear any long flowing clothes that can get caught in the machine.

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Categories: Tradesman Occupations