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How to use a trolley safely at work

A trolley can be a very effective way of moving heavy items or large loads from one place to another quickly and safely. That is one reason why they are an essential piece of equipment in the picking sections of warehouses, as well as in retail outlets like furniture shops.

Given that one of the main purposes of using a trolley to move items instead of doing so manually is to improve safety in the workplace, the last thing any business wants is trolley accidents. It is easy to minimise the risk of those by following some simple precautions before your workers use trolleys though.

Read on to learn how to ensure trolley safety in the workplace.

Assessing the risks

The first step in making sure that trolleys are used safely, whether they are moving goods within a shop or a warehouse, is to conduct a risk assessment. In case you think that this is unnecessary, bear in mind that research has revealed that well over half of workers do not know the basics of health and safety in the workplace.

A risk assessment for warehouses and retail outlets where trolleys are used will involve identifying potential areas of danger and how they can be addressed. It usually means asking questions such as:

• Are the trolleys available suitable for the tasks?
• Are the aisles free of obstructions?
• Are floor conditions suitable for easy movement of trolleys?
• Are the trolleys in good condition?

Asking questions of this sort will allow you to pick up on issues that can lead to trolley safety problems and deal with them before any accidents should occur. So what is the next stage in the appropriate trolley safety procedures for a business to carry out?

Safe trolley handling techniques

Whether it is employees working in furniture or clothing stores or picking staff in a warehouse, anyone who will be handling a trolley regularly should be shown the correct techniques to ensure their own health and that of other employees.


When it comes to loading the trolley, an employee should only lift items that they can comfortably hold without causing injury. If the load to be put in the trolley is too heavy to lift, they should get help from a colleague.

Furthermore, it is important not to overload the trolley as that can cause the wheels to buckle and break or items to fall. Make sure employees are clear about the maximum load that each different trolley can take and consider investing in steel trolleys that are capable of supporting heavy loads.


A person pushing a loaded trolley from one part of a shop or warehouse to another should utilise around 2% of their body weight in doing so. That can vary slightly based on how full the trolley is, the type of castors that have been fitted and the weight of the person pushing it.

Pushing should also be done with the whole weight of the body, rather than just the shoulders and arms. This will make muscle strains less likely to occur.

Ground surfaces

Sometimes the surfaces that a trolley will have to be pushed along will not be perfectly even. Although the risk assessment can help you provide the right trolley for each surface, employees should be shown that greater force is needed to get a trolley over soft ground. Making sure that each one is fitted with good quality castors made of hard rubber will help too.

When the trolley is being moved down a sloping surface, the employee must keep a tight grip on it at all times and apply brakes when stopping. The trolley load must be distributed evenly.

Trolley maintenance and choice

Another key factor in trolley safety is keeping them in good condition. The castors should be regularly checked and replaced if there is any problem with them.
Trolleys should also be made of hard-wearing materials like steel and stored in dry, clean parts of the shop or warehouse to prevent them becoming rusted.

Having the correct trolleys for the work is just as important. From picking trolleys for warehouse operations to ones for carrying items of furniture like chairs, there are different trolleys for different needs. There are also cage trolleys that have wire mesh around them to prevent items from falling and causing injuries.

It is even possible to get ones that have been custom designed for the requirements of your particular business, if you buy them from a company that offers that kind of specialist tailored service. This is something that you should look into if you feel that your current trolleys are not meeting the safety and efficiency needs of your business.

At Steely Products, we manufacture and sell tubular steel picking and furniture trolleys for shops and warehouses. Contact us or place your order using the form below.

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