Using trolleys when stacking product onto shelves: A health and safety solution

This guidance advises employers about the safe use of trolleys when stacking product onto shelves. The following measures eliminate or reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) to employees.

Problem

Employees stacking product onto shelves may be at risk of MSDs when repeatedly back bending to handle product on trolleys that is close to the ground and below waist height.

Risks

Frequent back bending can cause MSDs to employees. MSDs can occur suddenly or over a prolonged period of time.

Solutions

Reduce the risk of MSDs by using a trolley that locates the product at waist-height. This allows employees to undertake this part of the stacking task in an upright posture.

Trolleys should have:

  • a height-adjustable spring or scissor base or a fixed trolley shelf height at a level that eliminates unnecessary back bending
    • handles that project away from the body of the trolley to allow the employee pushing to use them without their legs or feet hitting the trolley during walking
      • a height limit for stacking of the trolley so the employee can see over the load at all times
        • large-diameter castors suitable for the floor surface
          • low-resistance bearings
            • regular inspection and maintenance
              • damaged trolleys should be removed from service until repaired or replaced

            Where items are pulled or pushed, the floor surface should be non-slip, level and smooth, without ridges and rough or damaged patches or level changes so employees don’t have to exert excessive force to push the trolley around.

            Figure 1: Example of a suitable trolley that helps the employee to keep an upright posture.