Signs it May be Time to Invest in an Electric Tugger

Electric tuggers can move heavy loads when the weight of the load requires excessive manual exertion from workers, increasing occupational safety.

Material handling operations play a crucial role in any warehouse or distribution center. And choosing the right equipment can make all the difference in the efficiency and safety of your operations.

One popular tool favored among warehouse operators is the electric tugger, which can significantly reduce the physical demands of your warehouse workers while improving productivity and safety.

But how do you know when it’s time to invest in an electric tugger? And how much can your warehouse workers realistically push day in and day out? Well, the answer is that this all depends heavily on a variety of factors, but there are currently no weight regulations for manual pushing and pulling of materials and carts in a warehouse setting.

 In this article, we’ll explore some key signs to look out for, so you can decide whether an electric tugger is the right investment for your warehouse.

What is an Electric Tugger?

An electric tugger is a motorized machine that moves heavy loads within a warehouse or manufacturing facility. The tugger typically consists of a power unit and a trailer which can be attached to form a train of carts. The operator usually walks alongside or behind the tugger and uses a steering handle to accelerate and steer the tugger through the facility.

Electric tuggers are useful for moving heavy loads when the weight of the load requires excessive manual exertion from warehouse workers.

This tool is commonly used in warehouses, distribution centers, manufacturing facilities, as well as industries like aviation, healthcare, and hospitality.

Risk Factors of Manual Material Handling

Repeatedly lifting, moving, and pushing hand carts carrying maximum loads can take their toll on the human body. Here are a few common risk factors associated with manual material handling:


Workers required to lift, push, or pull heavy objects may experience symptoms of overexertion, like musculoskeletal disorders, including sprains, strains, and lower back injuries.

Repetitive Motion

Repetitive movements requiring workers to exert push and pull forces can result in repetitive motion injuries, including carpal tunnel and tendonitis.

Awkward Postures

Musculoskeletal disorders may also result from repeatedly working in awkward positions while bending, twisting, and lifting loads. Proper equipment with thoughtful ergonomics can help remedy this hazard.

Heavy Lifting

Repetitive heavy lifting tasks can cause upper body injuries to the back and shoulders as well as chronic low back pain.

Collision Hazards

Collisions of heavy loads in the warehouse space can cause significant damage to materials and equipment and severe bodily injury to the workers involved.

When it comes to material handling, it’s important to consider how much weight can be safely and efficiently moved by a single warehouse worker using a hand truck. This maximum weight will vary depending on the type of manual material handling cart and the person operating it, but here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

How Much Weight is Too Much Weight?

OSHA has not established maximum weights that can be lifted, pushed, or pulled by workers, but the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) created a mathematical model to help managers predict the risk of injury associated with frequently lifting heavy loads.

Task (Single Person) Ideal Weight Limit Maximum Weight Limit
Horizontal Pushing
Less than 50 pounds
100 pounds (occasional)
Horizontal Pulling
Less than 50 pounds
100 pounds (occasional)
Vertical Pushing or Pulling
Less than 50 pounds
70 pounds (occasional)

When they developed this model, NIOSH researchers acknowledged that the weight of the loads being transported was far from the only factor in injury risk. There are several other considerations to take into account when deciding if electric tugger assistance is a good idea for your facility.

Assess the required amount of force to move materials

How much force each worker can reasonably and safely exert will depend on various factors, including their body weight, overall fitness, and any individual limitations they may experience. If you notice that your workers are struggling to move materials safely and efficiently, it may be time to look into electric tuggers for your facility.

Evaluate the distance of travel

The distance your workers transport materials plays a huge role in whether or not you need the assistance of electric tuggers. If your workers are quickly moving materials over short distances, you may be just fine relying on manpower and hand carts for your operations. Pallet jacks and electric tuggers may be in your best interest if the distances are longer or require precise maneuverability.

Analyze the frequency of material handling tasks

How often are your workers transporting materials throughout the facility?

Consider the layout of the warehouse

Electric tuggers may be helpful for your operations if maneuverability is important to safely and efficiently transfer materials throughout your warehouse. While the required pull or push force may be reasonable when exerted over a smooth, horizontal surface, be sure to evaluate the amount of added force required to transport carts over uneven surfaces, up ramps, or around corners in your facility, as this can be significantly greater than a simple horizontal force. The weight of the carts can also play a role in the overall exertion required of workers, especially on elevated surfaces or when old casters are not functioning smoothly.

Examine the productivity and occupational safety of current manual handling tasks

OSHA recommends warehouse managers periodically interview employees on the difficulty of their pushing and pulling tasks as well as any reported back pain they may be experiencing. On their walkabout of the facility, managers should also observe workers’ postures during lifting tasks, the general weights of objects being pushed, pulled, and lifted, and the distance over which materials are being moved. If there are any concerns about the workers’ ability to safely and efficiently move materials throughout the facility, it may be time to invest in electric tuggers.

Investing in electric tugger carts can help improve the safety and efficiency of material handling operations in warehouses and distribution centers. Nutting’s electric tugger carts are designed with ergonomics and safety in mind to ensure workers can move heavy loads with ease. By choosing Nutting’s electric tugger carts, warehouse managers can trust that their employees are using top-of-the-line equipment that is reliable, durable, and user-friendly. Streamline your operations today!

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