In large shopping centres, stores frequently contract out the management of their shopping trolleys to collection companies. The same company may collect trolleys on behalf of more than one store in the centre.
Collection companies usually employ some form of motorised collection device to assist in handling the trolleys, such as a tractor or other vehicle towing a specially-designed trailer.
Some business may also ask store workers to manually collect trolleys.
The hazards associated with shopping trolley collection and management are often overlooked.
Potential hazards include:
- hazardous manual tasks and musculoskeletal disorder (MSD)
- vehicular traffic
- loss of control of unrestrained trolleys
- uneven ground
- poor maintenance of towing vehicles, trailers or other equipment
- falls when riding as passengers on collection trailers
- inclement weather
- UV radiation exposure
- heat stress.
To eliminate or minimise these hazards, it is important that the PCBU develops policies and procedures to set out the collection process and the responsibilities of the various parties, such as:
- shopping centre management
- collection companies
- trolley collectors.
Store offering shopping trolley facilities must supervise and enforce these policies and procedures.
Training and supervision
All shopping trolley collectors and drivers must receive training in the use of specific collection equipment and how to avoid potential hazards.
To ensure instructions and processes are being followed, PCBUs should make regular visits to car park areas.
Store managers and collection service must ensure that they have:
- policies and procedures in place, including hazard management processes and checklists, for safely undertaking tasks
- processes in place to ensure collectors comply with the policies and procedures
- provided appropriate training to trolley collectors.
When planning shopping centres/supermarkets safe trolley collection should be incorporated into the design. Good design includes:
- separation of trolley return routes from public access routes
- clearly designated trolley return areas in car parks.
The use of motorised collection devices can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Collection vehicles and equipment also come with risks that must be appropriately controlled. Controls include:
- regularly maintaining vehicles, trolleys and equipment
- keeping appropriate maintenance logs and documentation
- fitting appropriate warning devices to vehicles
- not allowing passengers to ride on vehicles or trailers (unless the design and implementation ensures their safety)
- restraining trolleys with strong, lightweight straps, such as rope (preferably latched)
- do not use elastic straps
- procedures for the safe manual loading/unloading of trailers.
PCBUs must complete a risk assessment in order to ensure the safety of workers manually moving trolleys.
The risk assessment should:
- identify how many trolleys can be safely moved at any given time
- consider the working environment (eg terrain over which trolleys have to be moved such as ramps or up slopes)
- consider individual worker’s personal factors and abilities.
Following the risk assessment, the PCBU needs to implement safe systems of work that addresses the risks.
Personal protective equipment
The PCBU must provide appropriate PPE if shopping trolley collection requires exposure of workers to inclement weather. This includes:
- wet weather gear
- protection against ultraviolet exposure including sunscreen, broad-brimmed hat
- sunglasses/safety glasses that meet the Australian Standard
- fluorescent or other high visibility clothing (for daytime)
- reflective clothing (for evening).
Any uniform should consist of:
- a long-sleeved shirt (hi-vis/reflective)
- appropriate footwear.
Preventing heat illness
PCBUs must control the risk of heat illness from working outdoors in hot weather. Control measures may include:
- providing extra rest breaks in a cool area
- providing cool drinking water
- providing workers with information, instruction and training on recognising heat-related illness and on first aid response
- adequate supervision
- reducing the time spent doing hot tasks (eg job rotation)
- planning ahead and ensuring all necessary measures for preventing heat illness are implemented when hot weather is predicted.
PCBUs should have a competent person inspect and maintain trolleys (following the suppliers instructions) to ensure they are safe and fit-for-purpose.
Shopping trolleys can become unstable and tip over as a result of:
- poor maintenance
- uneven or inconsistent surfaces
- uneven distribution of goods or children within the trolley.
Any trolley identified as unsafe:
- must be tagged ‘out-of-service’ and secured in an area not accessible to the public
- must be repaired following the suppliers instructions
- should have the braking systems (if installed) inspected and properly maintained
- must be cleared as safe and fit-for-use prior to being made available for use by the public
- should be recorded on the inspection and maintenance log.