Self-Propelled Platform Truck

A self-propelled platform truck enables one worker to transport heavy loads across worksites with minimal effort.


When using a non-powered platform truck to move heavy loads, a worker must perform heavy pulling or pushing. These movements can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).  A self-propelled platform truck is an engineering control that reduces the stress of pulling or pushing objects during material handling.  These powered equipment allow maneuvering of large, heavy objects with minimal effort, and are smaller than traditional forklifts.

Self-propelled platform trucks are used for moving loads too heavy for traditional platform trucks that are non-powered. Depending on models, some of these electric-powered equipment can handle loads up to 1,500 pounds across worksites  or up to 1,100 pounds on inclined 8 degrees surfaces. These equipment are navigated by hand controls on the back of the truck. As the examples with vendor description below is not a comprehensive list of all existing self-propelled trucks, please visit other manufacturer or vendor websites for equipment suitable to the job's requirements.

Vestil Self-Propelled Battery Powered Platform Truck

The Vestil self-propelled powered truck, without the additonal shelves, can handle loads up to 750 pounds. Integral traction drive features a 500W, 24V electric drive motor, (2) 95AH batteries, and an on-board 6 amp battery charger. Ergonomically designed low-hinged handle with pivot-action offers variable speed control, horn, and safety-reverse features. Unit operates up to 2.8 miles per hour (mph) when unloaded, and up to 2.5 mph when fully loaded. Standard features include automatic braking, automatic parking brake, free-wheel lever for manual operation, and battery gauge level. Electronics are enclosed in splash-proof casing for safety. Rolls smoothly on two 9" solid foam steer wheels and two 10-┬╝" solid foam load wheels. 14" deck height and non-slip tread-plate surface.

Moto-Cart Self-Propelled Battery Powered Platform Truck

The Moto-Cart is a battery operated self-propelled electric platform truck. This unique cart increases productivity and reduces injuries caused by pushing and pulling non-powered carts. This flexible vehicle can travel over carpeting, tile, or any hard surface, go in and out of elevators and handle 1500 pounds on level surface and 1000 pounds on inclines up to 6 degrees. Safety features include: horn, flashing reverse mode switch which flashes yellow, automatic braking, automatic parking brake, emergency stop switch, and will not operate when parking brake is off, when plugged in to charge, or if the throttle is faulty. Travel distance is approximately 15 miles on a charge.

Wesco Self-Propelled Battery Powered Platform Truck

Powerful 370W drive motor with a Curtis 110 amp controller allows unit to operate at 2.4 mph when unloaded, 1.9 mph when fully loaded, and offers a maximum climbing incline of 8 degrees. Fingertip variable speed controller features simple forward/reverse operation and unit stops automatically when trigger is released. Automatic beeper alarms operator when in reverse for safety. Two 12V 40 AH batteries offer 6 hours of continuous use and integral charger allows full recharge in 7-8 hours. Non-skid vinyl deck surface helps retain cargo. Emergency stop, keyed lock, illuminated battery status indicator and full perimeter deck bumper guard are standard. Rolls smoothly on two 5"" rubber steer wheels and two 10"" pneumatic load wheels.

Risks Addressed:

When using a traditional platform truck to transport heavy loads, a worker must perform heavy pulling or pushing.  Heavy pulling and pushing heavy objects can cause disc herniation, muscle strain, and other MSDs. A low back disc herniates when there are excessive loads are placed on the spine. Overworking the muscles can also result in strains. Using self-propelled platform trucks may reduce the risk of disc herniation, muscle strains, and other MSDs associated with pulling and pushing.

How Risks are Reduced:

Self-propelled platform trucks eliminate the manual pushing and pulling that is required with traditional platform trucks.  Instead, the self-propelled mechanism uses power generated from an electric motor to move heavy loads.

There have not been independent published studies measuring the effect of self-propelled platform trucks on the incidence of low back disorders.  However, studies have shown an association between manual materials handling and low back pain. (Kuiper et al. 1999; van der Molen et al. 2005). Self-propelled platform trucks reduce the amount of manual materials handling and therefore may reduce the incidence of low back pain.

Additional Considerations:

Operators of self-propelled platform trucks also need to consider the weight of the equipment with the material load when maneuvering across the job sites as floor hole covers, temporary wood ramps or flooring structural supporting members have load limits. In addition, it is recommended users follow all manufacturer guidelines before using this equipment to ensure worker safety and compliance with applicable local, state or federal regulations.

Small, hard surfaced wheels may be a challenge while operating on the typically congested and debris, strewn floor at most construction job sites.  A pneumatic type wheel may solve this challenge.


Jean Christophe Le, MPH - CPWR The Center for Construction Research and Training


Global Industrial
To obtain information, visit Vestil Self-Propelled Battery Powered Platform Trucks and Wesco Self-Propelled Battery Powered Platform Trucks or contact 1-888-978-7759

MarkPack Inc.
To obtain information, visit Moto-Cart Self Propelled Platform Truck or contact 1-888-874-5454

Return on Investment

To calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your specific application, please visit our Return on Investment Calculator. While a specific ROI example has not been developed for this particular solution, the ROI Calculator provides a useful tool and guidance on how to generate your own on investment analysis.