Choose the Right Hand Truck, Cart Or Dolly for the Job

Grainger Editorial Staff

Hand trucks, carts and dollies fall into the category of material handling equipment used to transport heavy or bulky objects from one place to another. These terms are often used interchangeably, but each piece of equipment serves a specific purpose. It’s important to understand the differences between these movers so you choose the right one for the job. This will make your task easier, more productive, and most importantly, safer.

Let’s first break down the differences between these three pieces of moving equipment and when they are used.

Moving Equipment Description When to Use

Hand Truck
Hand trucks stand upright and feature two large wheels. The L-shaped design makes them useful for sliding under heavy items to be moved without having to lift them by hand. The truck can be tilted backward to allow the item to rest up against its back. The vertical design makes it great for moving tall or heavy items. Smaller items uniform in size and shape, like boxes, can be stacked onto a hand truck so they can be moved safely at the same time. Learn more about choosing the right hand truck here.

Material handling carts come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but all feature four wheels and can be used to load many items safely. Because many carts have sides, it's safe to load them with as many items that fit. Carts are best when the objective is to move as many items as possible at once.

Dollies come in a variety of designs and sizes for different tasks, but they all feature a platform with four wheels and two axles. Dollies are flat, so Items have to be lifted onto them. Dollies are used for moving pieces of heavy equipment, furniture or other items that are too heavy to carry. Dollies can be unpredictable in motion because they don't have handles and use casters instead of wheels. Sometimes using dollies requires two people to help maneuver them.

Safety Considerations

If you're an employer, make sure your workers know the safety basics for using hand trucks and carts, and make sure they have a variety of material handling options for moving large loads or heavy items. The National Safety Council emphasizes regular worker training and communication for these kinds of tasks. Simple reminders about how to move safely, such as always using your legs to lift and avoiding sudden movements or twisting your body, can go a long way to help prevent worker injuries."

Learn more about Material Handling Safety and the variety of material handling options available at Grainger.

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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