Well-designed trolleys make pushing and pulling safer

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures reveal that more than a third of accidents at work are related to manual handling. To reduce the number of accidents requires safety training, thorough procedures and well-designed manual handling equipment such as trolleys.

Pushing and pulling

Manual handling operations using trolleys involve pushing and pulling. Trolleys loaded with heavy items are pushed or pulled to move them around the warehouse or storage area. Investigations into injuries caused by pushing and pulling find that the main risk is musculoskeletal system damage, but other body parts can be affected. Fingers and hands can be caught between the wall and the manual handling equipment. Feet, lower legs, and heels can get caught under equipment, or equipment can hit a worker’s legs. The age-old peril of trips and slips rears its head as well.

Prevention

Manual Handling Operations Regulations cover lifting and lowering goods, as well as pushing and pulling loads on trolleys. The regulations have guidelines about maximum loads. When stopping and starting, loads should not exceed 20kg for men and 15kg for female workers. When keeping loads in motion, do not exceed 10kg for men and 7kg for females. Heavier loads can be moved, but any operations that involve loads over the guideline limits require a detailed risk assessment. The HSE has an easy-to-use online tool to carry these assessments out.

As part of a risk assessment, there are several questions to answer. Can route lengths be reduced by reorganising storage areas? Can the floor surface be improved to make it smoother? If journeys involve kerbs, can ramps be installed to make it easier to move over them? Can more rest breaks be scheduled?

The importance of well-designed trolleys

The design of trolleys is an important factor to make pushing and pulling safer. The trolley should not require operators to apply their hands to the trolley below waist height or above shoulder height. Trolley handles should be between 91cm and 114cm. A good hand grip, finger slots or cutouts on the handle should be between 3.2cm and 4.5cm apart.

Trolleys should be the correct type for the load. Odd-shaped heavy loads such as chairs and sofas require equipment specially designed for the job. Wheels should be quality casters that are located in the right position to make the trolleys easy to push. They also need to rotate to make trolleys easy to steer.

To safely move and steer trolleys, their length should be between 1.5 and 2 times the width. Trolleys need to be strong but not too heavy. The HSE recommends that the weight of the trolley should be about 25% of the load. Tubular steel is an ideal material for trolleys because it is strong, yet not too heavy.

For further assistance on safe manual handling, the HSE has produced two reports (available at www.hse.gov):

– Research Report 228 Review of the Risks Associated with Pushing and Pulling Heavy Loads
– L23 Manual Handling. Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended). Guidance on Regulations.”

Posted by Derek
5th September 2018
Health & Safety

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