Carts and racks are a vital part of any processing operation. Moving product into and out of ovens and smokehouses, transporting product from one work area to another, allowing product to cool — all necessary in food processing — make carts and racks indispensable to an efficient operation.
However, when used improperly, carts and racks can pose a safety hazard to your employees.
Over loading a cart, placing hands in the wrong places, not properly balancing the cart load can all lead to both musculoskeletal disorders and immediate injury.
Most Common Risks
The greatest safety risks with using carts and racks are:
- Trips and Falls: pushing the cart or rack too quickly, getting the cart or rack stuck on waste on the floor, pushing with an obstructed view, all can lead to employees tripping and falling while using a cart or rack.
- Crushed Fingers: placing hands on the sides of carts or racks, rather than on the handle bars, can lead to accidentally crushing fingers against walls and other machinery.
- Overexertion: an overloaded or heavy cart will require a lot of force to get it rolling, which can lead to overexertion — a risk factor for musculoskeletal disorders.
Follow These Safety Tips
Reducing the above risks of injury associated with using carts and racks is easy! The following seven safety tips, when instilled into your employees, will keep them safe from injury.
Balance cart load
An imbalanced cart puts employees in awkward positions when pushing, requiring them to push more on one side than the other. Always evenly balance the cart load — place heavier objects on lower shelves and even out weight distribution from left to right. This will make the cart easier to push.
Always push, do not pull
Attempting to pull a cart can cause serious injury. Not only does it require more force to pull than to push, it also puts your employees in the path of the rolling cart. Many workers have been injured by getting hit with a moving cart. Pushing eliminates that danger, and reduces the amount of force to get the cart rolling.
No items sticking out from the edge
Product extending beyond the sides of a cart pose serious risks not only for the employee pushing the cart, but also for employees working in the vicinity of the moving cart. Over hanging product might be difficult to notice, especially if an employee isn’t facing the oncoming cart. Getting hit with such product can result in injury.
It also can make it difficult to move through doorways and tight areas — putting the employee pushing the cart in danger of the cart stopping immediately, and running into it.
Always make sure all product is contained in the cart sides to avoid such risks of injury.
Park near a wall
When parking carts and racks, always place them out of the way and near a wall. Never park carts and racks near doors, exits, or walkways. Doing so creates an obstruction in operational flow and can pose a safety risk in the case of an emergency.
Lubricate wheels frequently
Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on lubricating casters and wheels. Some may not require lubrication and much as others. Keeping wheels properly lubricated make pushing carts easier, as the wheels start rolling more easily.
Hands on handles, not sides of cart
Employees should always place hands on cart handles. Placing hands on the sides of carts increases the risk of hands and fingers getting smashed when going through doorways, entering ovens and chillers, or passing by other moving equipment. The handles are the safest place to place one’s hands, so use them!
Do not obstruct view
Carts and racks should be loaded in a way that allows employees to see where they are pushing. Obstructed views are huge safety risks, as it does not allow for proper reaction time should the employee be pushing in the path of other workers, equipment, or objects that may be in the way. Having a clear view of where you are going is the safest choice for everyone.
Bonus Tip: Purchase the PushPal!
The PushPal is an innovative cart safety handle designed in response to a costly operator hand injury caused by gripping a smokehouse cart on the side edges. It easily attaches to any smokehouse truck and locks in place to provide a safety handle to prevent injury.
- Positions operator hands at an ergonomically safe position
- Provides a steady surface to grab onto in the case of a slick or wet floor to prevent slips and falls
- Gives operators better visibility by keeping them upright while pushing
- Eliminates cross contamination that occurs when operators touch produce and screens when grabbing the sides of carts
Reduce the Risk
Following the seven tips above will greatly reduce the risk of employee injury when it comes to using carts and racks throughout your processing plant.
Carts and racks might not seem dangerous, but improper use puts your employees at risk of injury. Print these tips out, give them to your employees, and train them how to properly operate carts and racks. It will save you the time and money involved in settling an employee injury.