Unlike service utility carts, which support the weight of the load entirely with structural steel, hand trucks rely on the strength of the operator to balance the load. For this reason, there is no single "safe capacity" for hand trucks. Since the operator will be exerting effort, there are some safety guidelines to bear in mind.
We recommend starting with small, manageable loads and adding one or two objects at a time to determine the safe capacity for each set of conditions. It's always better to make a few extra trips than to risk injury to yourself or others by overloading a hand truck. Remember, loaded hand trucks are potential hazards that can cause serious injury if not handled safely.
2. Potential Hazard: Load Angle
When pushing loads up an incline, individuals frequently must lower the angle of the load to generate enough force to push the load up the slope. Lowering the load angle increases the amount of weight the individual must lift. In addition to providing force in a horizontal direction, the individual must now provide force in a vertical direction. This places additional stress on the shoulder, back, and legs.
Equip the hand truck with a fold down third wheel attachment on the back. This will support the load and truck vertically, which ensures the individual provides force only in a horizontal direction, thus reducing overall strain.
3. Potential Hazard: Curbs & Stairs
Individuals that deliver to locations without docks must pull fully loaded hand trucks over uneven walking surfaces, up and over curbs, and up or down stairways.
Use a hand truck dock plate during transport. Hand truck dock plates are good for easy movement over uneven walking surfaces and for "bridging the gap" between the back of a delivery truck and the dock floor.
Use a hand truck curb ramp to negotiate curbs. hand truck curb ramps eliminate the need to lift and pull fully loaded hand trucks up curbs, raised entry ways, or up single steps into buildings.
To transport up and down stairs, equip the hand truck with a hand truck stair climber attachment. Hand truck stair climber attachments allow the operator to pull the collapsible hand truck up stairs smoothly and evenly, thus avoiding the possibility of losing product. Hand truck stair climbers allow the operator to guide the foldable hand truck up the stairs at a steady rate rather than irregular tugging motions for each step.
4. Potential Hazard: Declines
When an individual is descending along a decline, the load has the potential to get away from the hand truck cart operator. This places additional stress on the operator to restrain the truck and control the rate of descent.
Equip the folding hand truck with a hand brake option. A hand brake can assist the operator in restraining the folding hand truck, allowing them to safely guide a folding hand truck down an incline in a controlled manner.
Much of safe convertible hand truck operation comes down to common sense. Convertible hand trucks are designed to significantly decrease operator work and strain. When an operator experiences excessive strain, the load is too heavy. When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution and seek assistance. Operators will get more work done in the long run if they operate safely and avoid injury.