Office safety is always a priority, for insurance costs, OSHA standards, avoiding workers’ comp payouts, and most importantly of course, so your employees don’t get hurt! And moving an office presents specific hazards that can be mitigated or eliminated with proper planning and the right gear. That planning and appropriate gear use applies both to a full-scale relocation of an office to another space or location and the day-to-day lifting and moving of office equipment and supplies.

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The routine stuff—replacing the water cooler jug, picking up a box of printer paper, etc.—can be even riskier as its repetition and mundanity can lead to carelessness. So to keep your office safe and injury-free, educate your employees (and yourself) on the following best practices for office moving.

Using Hand Trucks, Dollies, or U-Boats

Not only do these wheeled wonders make moving a lot safer, they’re great time-savers that increase the efficiency of a move exponentially. Using the right gear for the job is at least as important as using the equipment at all. Misusing these moving aids will not only slow the process down, it also poses a risk to both the person using it and the item being moved.

First off, the terms “hand truck” and “dolly” are often conflated. They actually aren’t the same thing. A basic hand truck is a “L” shaped platform mounted on a handled frame with two wheels. While a dolly is a flat platform that typically rests on four wheels. Hand trucks are best for stacking generally smaller, heavy items. They can also be used for appliances, etc. that the platform is pushed under and which will remain on the platform safely when the hand truck is leaned backward for transport.

If whatever’s on the hand truck is wobbly or otherwise unstable, or if the mover is straining considerably to move it, go with another option. A hand lift truck can lift up to 350 pounds without strain to the user’s back. Dollies have wider platforms for moving heavier items than a hand truck can handle; more of them; and broader, bigger, or more awkwardly shaped items, devices, and appliances.

U-boats are like a hybrid of hand trucks and dollies. (Think of the mechanisms that bellboys use to move lots of luggage at fancy hotels, but for commercial and industrial use.) They’re called “U-boats” because they have raised handle frames on each end of the platform, like a “U.” They are handy for higher stacking and travelling across less even terrain, and in some cases can have better maneuverability than dollies.

The Right Tool for the Job

Hand trucks, dollies, and U-boats are great, but they have limitations. For instance, you wouldn’t want to use them for taking heavy items up and down the stairs. Thankfully, you can secure a stair climbing cart for precisely that purpose. Likewise, carrying those big water cooler jugs, particularly more than one, can be awkward at best, even with a traditional hand truck. However, bottled water trucks are available for exactly that purpose.

Things to Remember

If there’s a takeaway here, it’s that the proper use of moving equipment means increased safety for employees and the materials being transported. Below are a few other considerations that contribute to moving safety:

  • Ensure that employees wear the appropriate clothes for a move. Suits, dress shoes, and heels aren’t very conducive to moving heavy objects.
  • Remember that forever-applicable moving maxim: Lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Pack heavier items in small boxes.
  • Keep all moving paths clear of obstructions and tripping hazards—exits and entrances included.
  • Moving kicks up dust. Keep that in mind for employees who suffer from allergies, asthma, or any other pulmonary issues. Providing masks or respirators is wise.
  • Take breaks: It’s important to rest and recharge while moving.
  • Finally, know your limits and the limits of your employees and recognize when a job requires calling in the pros. Good luck!

About Magline

Magline is the material handling industry’s premier provider of material transporting solutions. The Magline name has become a byword for safe, effective, reliable, and trustworthy loading, unloading, and transport of everything that keeps your business going. Magline has provided products, like the appliance hand truck, of the highest quality for more than 70 years. They are committed to furnishing equipment that works as hard as you do.

Learn more about Magline’s tradition of safety and excellence at