Retailer fined £2.2m after employee crushed

The hazards of roll cages

Posted on: 13/01/2017   By: Lee Rance

A large high street retailer has been fined £2.2m after an employee was injured manoeuvring a roll cage filled with tins of paint from a lift. The employee was unaware that the lift had not levelled correctly and the cage toppled over, crushing her underneath. She suffered life changing injuries and now has to use a wheelchair.

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The company was aware of the issue with the lift after staff and an engineering company, who had inspected the lift under LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998), had warned that the lift was not levelling correctly. However, it wasn’t just the uneven lift that caused the tragedy but the cage itself was top heavy and the employee had not been sufficiently trained in the correct manual handling techniques for moving a roll cage.

Roll cages basically comprise of a cage mounted on four wheels and are used to transport goods, normally in factories, warehouses or shops. They are used more and more these days as they are generally more durable than pallets and easier to pack and store.

The movement and use of roll cages results in many injuries. The injuries are mainly related to manual handling and can include:

  • pushing/pulling loaded roll cages, especially up slopes or over steps;
  • trying to prevent roll cages overbalancing (and crush injuries where this was not successful);
  • repetitive loading and unloading of roll cages;
  • trapping hands while assembling/dismantling cages;
  • trapping hands and other parts of the body between the roll cage and a wall, side of vehicle etc.;
  • feet being trapped under the castors; and
  • roll cages falling off lorries (e.g. from the tail lift) during loading and unloading, often causing the most serious injuries.

The HSE website offers the following safe working advice on roll cages:

  • only move one cage at a time
  • move the cage no faster than walking speed
  • wherever possible push the cage as this is ergonomically better than pulling it
  • seek help on ramps and uneven surfaces
  • stack heavier items at the bottom to lower the centre of gravity
  • do not load above the load line or above the level where the operator can see over the load

Another point to mention is to ensure the route that the cage is to travel along is free from potential problems e.g. deteriorating flooring, debris, changes in level etc. (See figure 1.)

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Figure 1

A risk assessment should be carried out for each application of the roll cage covering, for both on-site and off-site risks. The assessment should take into consideration the pushing/pulling options, forces required to move the roll cage, effect of slopes and floor surface problems, visibility of the operator, hand/body/foot trapping risks, correct lifting methods for loading and unloading the cage, and the risks associated with loading/unloading roll cages onto lorries (e.g. with tail lifts).

If these simple steps are followed when using roll cages then future accidents can be avoided.

Until next time

Lee Rance