It was reported in January that household goods retailer Wilko had been fined £2.2 million following an incident at one of its stores which left a young female member of staff paralysed.

The incident which happened in the retailer’s Leicester store left the 20-year old with life changing injuries after a heavily laden cage full of paint fell on her whilst she was trying to manoeuvre it across an uneven floor. Wilko admitted four breaches of health and safety legislation after the court heard how the floor of the main goods lift and passenger lift was not level with the shop floor. In addition, the roll cage which fell on the worker had been incorrectly loaded.

It was found that employees at the store had not been given adequate training or supervision on the safe use of roll cages or the lifts they were expected to use. Suitable risk assessments had not been conducted, and the roll cage specific risk assessment did not cover the hazards involved in manuevouring them across uneven surfaces. If that was not bad enough, no risk assessment had been conducted on the manual handling of roll cages and there had been no information provided to staff about how to safely distribute loads throughout the cage.

Leicester City Council Public Safety Team Manager Govind Mandora said, “All businesses need to take heed and learn from this tragic case by taking their health and safety responsibilities seriously. Simple steps like carrying out adequate risk assessments, proper training and supervision for staff, and properly maintained equipment will help prevent similar accidents happening again.”

HSE Guidance on Roll Cage Use

Roll cages are commonly used in the retail sector for storage and distribution and are also widely used across the food and drink industries and in manufacturing. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published comprehensive guidance on the use of roll cages and wheeled racks with the aim of reducing manual handling related injuries. The guidance highlights the importance of carrying out risk assessments for each application of the roll cage which should cover, amongst other points, the effect of slopes and floor surface problems; operator visibility; loading and unloading risks and correct lifting methods for loading and unloading the roll cage.

According to the HSE, the movement and loading of roll cages leads to numerous injuries, most of which are related to manual handling. Whilst there are no comprehensive industry research findings available, some companies that use roll cages continuously have reported that up to a third of their accidents are related to the cages and that injuries typically result from pushing and pulling, particularly up slopes; trying to prevent the overbalancing of roll cages; repetitive loading and unloading; feet and hands becoming trapped and the cages themselves falling off lorries during loading and unloading.

Manual Handling Training Imperative for Roll Cage Users

In light of what the HSE has said on the subject of roll cages and manual handling related injuries, employers should feel compelled to conduct usage-specific risk assessments and to ensure their workforce receives the very best training possible before they begin to use the cages. Training should be appropriate to the situation the roll cage operators face; i.e. it should not be general, but instead specifically designed to deal with the nature of the goods being transported, and the surroundings.

At Alistair Bromhead Ltd, our manual handler training course can be individually tailored to the specific needs of roll cage users. The course can be carried out onsite so that the trainees get to do their learning within the environment they are actually working in, with hands-on tuition in the safe use of the roll cage they will actually be using to carry out their duties. The training is practical and interactive and there is also a manual handling train the trainer course for those looking to become certified trainers themselves, allowing organisations to invest in their own in-house trainers and therefore reduce costs whilst enhancing safety.

For more information call 0800 710 1099 or email