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Hand Trucks

If you regularly move heavy objects, whether at your place of business or at home, get a hand truck to prevent muscle strain and possible serious injury. Using a hand truck also lessens the chance that you will drop and damage valuable merchandise. The size, shape, and weight of the objects that you must move will determine the proper type of hand truck for your purposes.

  • Size: a common injury when using a hand truck occurs when you sandwich one of your hands between the truck’s handle (which you are gripping) and a wall or other large object along your path. Before buying, determine both the size of the things that you will move and the spaces that you will have to negotiate. The truck must be wide enough to safely hold the objects, but not so wide that you cannot maneuver in tight spaces.
  • Shape: the most familiar models, commonly seen in supermarkets and other retail stores, are appropriate for stacks of boxes or other items with a box-like shape. Other models are specially designed to lift barrels or drums, and then cradle them securely during transport so that they do not roll off. Using a standard flat-backed hand truck (the type designed for boxes) to move cylindrical canisters can be dangerous.
  • Materials: hand trucks are made of aluminum or steel. Steel is less likely to bend or break. On the other hand, aluminum is lighter weight and more portable. Be sure that your hand truck is guaranteed to support the amount of weight that you plan to load on it without bending or breaking. Also recognize that eventual bending and breaking due to metal fatigue (that is, the cumulative stress placed on the metal by use over time) is more likely with aluminum.
  • Wheels: the type of wheels or tires on your hand truck should be appropriate for the surfaces on which you will move. If you will work on rough surfaces like asphalt, the tires must be durable or else they will wear out prematurely. Understand how to replace tires that wear out, and at what cost. On the other hand, if you will work on interior floors, look for tires that do not tend to leave scuffmarks.
  • Storage and portability: to aid with portability and storage, some hand truck models have folding parts. If you like one of these, be sure that its durability is not compromised.

It is safer to walk forwards rather than backwards when using a hand truck. Accordingly, look for a model that easily allows you to push the load rather than pull it.

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