According to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, around a third of all injuries that occur in business that use roll cages, occur because of roll cages. There are many dangers associated with the use of these essential supply chain devices, ranging from small bruises that can occur when fingers or hands become trapped between cages to more serious situations when cages topple over due to bad stacking practices. How can businesses reduce the risks to their staff that use roll cages on a daily basis?
Long Term Unloading and Loading
The most common injury associated with the operation of roll cages is actually due to the repetitive nature of loading and unloading items from the cage. Due to the time constraints of modern business workers may be forced to perform stock control duties over long periods of time, which may involve a near constant movement of goods from trucks or storage shelves via roll cages onto a production line or shop floor. Workers should be trained in the correct way to lift and move heavy goods – such as nesting and bending at the knees to avoid back and shoulder stresses and strains. Companies should also make sure that their workforce has adequate breaks, even if these have to take place at the expense of productivity, to make sure that employees have a chance to stretch and relax their muscles, which is a proven way to cut down on the chances of them getting a repetitive strain injury.
Safe and Sensible Movement
It is essential that staff members are trained in the correct way to move roll cages around the workplace. Although roll cages can be pulled to their destination, this creates high levels of impact stress, which can cause strains and injuries in the operator. Roll cages should therefore only be pushed around the workplace at a walking speed so that they do not gather excessive momentum that could make them difficult to stop suddenly in an emergency situation. Workers should also take care to only move one cage at a time – it is possible to form trains of cages to save time, particular when trying to move large amounts of fairly light goods. Such practices are not advisable as the operator will only have control over the cage they are in contact with, making it difficult to stop other cages in the train in the event of an emergency.
Travel over Inclines and Uneven Ground
Moving roll cages up and down ramps or over uneven ground is a process that can be fraught with danger. Workers should be advised to take extreme care in such situations. It may be preferential to move some heavy goods piece by piece and walk them down ramps rather than trying to predict the movement of a roll cage that has been laden with items as it travels down even a short incline. In situations where roll cages must be moved over such surfaces it is advisable that a number of employees help move the cage to prevent it toppling over or running out of control.
Casters - The Point of Contact
Casters, or the wheels that roll cages use for a smooth motion across the floor of warehouses, factories and shops, must be well maintained in order to avoid safety issues. As these parts are in constant use they can easily become damaged or the bearings can become worn, causing an individual wheel on a cage to stick, affecting the movement of the unit as a whole. If a roll cage does not have a regular motion this can cause problems for the operator as it’s trajectory will become unpredictable, which can lead to safety problems such as hands, feet and limbs getting trapped between the roll cage and other surfaces such as walls, other roll cages or shop shelves. It is essential that any business using roll cages operates a regular schedule of maintenance where the wheels of each cage are checked for defects and any problematic wheel is immediately replaced.
The Dangers of Over-Loading
One of the greatest dangers posed by roll cages is toppling. This happens when a cage has been over-loaded with goods, or the goods within a cage have been stacked poorly, creating a high centre of gravity, which can cause the cage to overbalance when pressure is applied to one side in order to move it. In the first instance a logistics manager should always be aware of the movement of items across a workspace and care should be taken at all times not to exceed the stated capacity of a roll cage – this can be difficult when a consignment is made up of many different items, although workers should be trained and informed of the risks of over-loading cages. Secondly it is important to look at how goods and items are stacked on any individual roll cage. It is essential that the heavier items are stored at the bottom of the cage, keeping the centre of gravity as low as possible. Many modern roll cages now feature special load lines to make sure that the volume of goods carried in a cage does not obstruct or obscure the view of the operator.
A Final Point – The Right Cages for the Job
There are now a huge variety of different roll cages available, from heavy duty steel constructions through to light weight trolleys with folding sides that can be easily stored until needed. One of the best ways to ensure that roll cage usage is safe within the workplace is to select the correct roll cages for your requirements. It may be the case that business owners need to consult with managers and workers to find out what the challenges are in using roll cages – for instance there may be a metal sill in a security door that needs to be negotiated when bringing roll cages in from the outside, which would be better suited to a cage with a large wheel diameter. By understanding how roll cages are used within the business, the right cages can be chosen to make stock handling and movement as accident free as possible.