SafeWork SA

You are here

Go to top of page

Shopping trolley collection

Safety Alert
24 February 2015

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.

Store workers usually manually collect trolleys outside large shopping centres.

Risk control measures

The potential hazards associated with shopping trolley collection can 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 tractors or trailers
  • inclement weather
  • UV radiation exposure
  • heat stress.

Policies and procedures

The hazards associated with shopping trolley collection and management can easily be overlooked. To eliminate or minimise these hazards, it is important that the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) develops policies and procedures to set out the responsibilities of the various parties, such as shopping centre management, stores and collection companies.

Policies and procedures need to be supervised and enforced at store level.

Trolley collection

  • trolley collection needs should be considered when shopping centres and supermarkets are designed
  • trolley return routes should be separated from public access routes
  • clearly designated trolley return areas should be provided in car parks
  • to minimise the risk of a musculoskeletal disorder, motorised collection devices should be used wherever possible
  • vehicles and any other equipment should receive regular documented maintenance by competent persons
  • equipment must be fitted with appropriate warning devices
  • passengers should not be allowed to ride on vehicles or trailers unless specific provisions are designed and implemented that ensure their safety
  • trolleys should be restrained by the use of strong, lightweight straps, such as rope. It is preferred that all straps are latched. Elastic straps must never be used due to the danger of dislodgement
  • methods for manually loading/unloading trailers should be determined and documented
  • in order to ensure the safety of any worker required to manually move trolleys, a risk assessment should be conducted along with safe systems of work implemented. This would include identifying how many trolleys can be safely moved at any given time, taking into consideration factors such as the working environment (terrain over which trolleys have to be moved e.g. over ramps or up slopes) and the worker’s personal factors and abilities.

Training and supervision

All shopping trolley collectors and drivers must receive training in the use of specific collection equipment, in accordance with the PCBU’s policies and procedures.

PCBUs should make regular visits to car park areas to ensure instructions are being complied with.

Trolley collection should be included in hazard management processes and checklists.

Where trolley collection services are used, store managers must ensure that:

  • the collection service has policies and procedures in place for safely undertaking these tasks
  • collectors comply with those policies and procedures
  • collectors have received appropriate training.

Preventing heat illness

The risk of heat illness from working outdoors in hot weather must be controlled. 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 for such a situation
  • adequate supervision
  • reducing the time spent doing hot tasks (e.g. job rotation)
  • planning ahead and ensuring all necessary measures for preventing heat illness can be implemented when hot weather is predicted.

Trolley maintenance

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.

A regular inspection and maintenance regime by a competent person should be implemented to ensure trolleys are safe and fit-for-purpose. Maintenance instructions provided by the supplier should be consulted and followed.

When a trolley is identified as unsafe and requiring maintenance and repair, the following steps are recommended:

  • trolleys must be tagged ‘out-of-service’ and secured in an area not accessible to the public
  • appropriate maintenance and repairs should be undertaken
  • an inspection and maintenance log should be kept
  • trolleys must be cleared as safe and fit-for-use prior to being made available for use by the public
  • braking systems (if they are installed) should be regularly inspected and maintained.

Personal protective equipment

If shopping trolley collection requires exposure of workers to inclement weather, the PCBU must provide wet weather gear.

In summer, workers must be provided with protection against ultraviolet exposure including sunscreen, broad-brimmed hat, clothing that covers additional skin surface and sunglasses/safety glasses that meet the Australian Standard.

Where a uniform is provided, it should consist of a long-sleeved shirt, trousers and appropriate footwear.

For daytime, fluorescent or other high visibility clothing should be worn, and reflective clothing for evening collection.

Additional information