Roll cages are a common site in many warehouses across the UK. Used to transport goods from A to B, they are a simple yet vital piece of equipment within the supply chain. However, weighing 500kg or more when fully loaded, they can become a significant hazard to those working with or near them.

Some companies that use roll cages continuously found up to a third of their accidents were roll cage related. Injuries result from pushing/pulling especially up slopes, trying to prevent roll cages overbalancing (and crush injuries where this was not successful), repetitive loading and unloading, trapping hands and feet and roll cages falling off lorries (eg from a tail lift) during loading/unloading. (source: HSE)

So, as an industry, what can we do to reduce this figure and ensure the safety of our staff when using roll cages?

Labyrinth covered this topic in detail at the recent Safety Circle hosted by Wilko at their DC in Workshop. A keynote speaker from Wilko talked about the risks of pushing and pulling roll cages, and about their H&S journey. The group then discussed the importance of risk assessments, training and design considerations.


It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that all relevant staff (including agency staff) are fully trained in the use of roll cages and the safe system of work. Things to consider:


  • The language used to deliver training is vital. Ensure it is clear, simple, and easy to understand. When devising safe systems of work use bullet points rather than paragraphs and include pictures and images to capture the readers’ attention.

Practical training

  • In addition to providing information and instructions, practical training encourages employee engagement and is therefore more effective. It also allows the trainer the assess the individual’s skills and ability and identify further training needs.

Review the training

  • Ongoing supervisory checks ensure that safe systems of work are being followed. Checks can also highlight areas for improvement in the information and/or training provided to employees.



Roll cages are available in a variety of different sizes and specifications. Things to consider:


  • When selecting roll cages, consider the type and quality of material used, the height of the roll cage and the supplier. Roll cages should be robust and rigid and be able to withstand long-term use. The cage and mesh should be free from damage to prevent cuts, abrasions, and entrapment injuries. Consider painting the tops of the roll cages, not only to be able to easily identify your own equipment but to also make them more visible to staff working in the vicinity.


  • Consider using roll cages with larger diameter wheels. This can improve manoeuvrability and lower the risk of manual handling injuries by reducing the pushing and pulling force required to move the roll cage. Larger diameter wheels can also improve stability and reduce the risk of the roll cage overbalancing if moving over uneven ground or change in surface as a lager diameter wheel can ‘bridge the gap’ more easily. Also consider using roll cages with fixed wheels (2 of 4) and brakes. This could help lower the risk of uncontrolled movement, improve steering ability, and reducing crush/collision injuries.


  • Consider using roll cages with rubber grips or marked ‘handles’. This would indicate to the user the correct position for hand placement when pushing/pulling. This could help to encourage best practice manual handling techniques and also reduce the number of entrapment injuries to fingers and hands.

Loading/unloading on/off vehicles:

  • Consider using tail lifts with barriers/straps to prevent the roll cage from falling off the tail lift during loading/unloading. Where brakes are fitted to the roll cage ensure these are applied when using the tail lift.



Things to consider in the risk assessment:

  • Availability of the right sort of roll cages at the right time
  • Weight distribution
  • Pick routes (are these optimised for efficiency or safety? Will they result in light items beneath heavy items?)
  • Pushing vs pulling
  • Body position
  • Brakes
  • Handles
  • Shelves
  • Doors / lids
  • Visibility
  • Floor conditions – uneven ground, change in floor surface, inclines
  • Correct PPE
  • PUWER considerations
  • Delivery point issues
  • Tail lift capability and prevention measures against cages rolling off
  • Cage defects and the rectification process
  • Load restraints
  • Physical ability of the individual

Risk assessments will need to be revisited on a regular basis if the operation changes.

For details on the next Safety Circle on the subject of point of delivery safety, or to find out more about the H&S consultancy services offered by Labyrinth, please email or call 01926 319860.

Ruth Waring FCILT November 2017