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Trolleys and lifting devices

People will often require the use of a trolley or lifting device to move items that are too heavy to be moved unassisted. Even when you use a lifting or moving device, you can still be at risk of musculoskeletal injury if you rush and don’t follow procedures.


  • Use the right equipment for the job.
  • Avoid twisting your body awkwardly when using lifting devices.
  • Know your lifting capacity.

Potential harm

  • Crushing injuries
  • Musculoskeletal disorders

Identified hazards and controls

Musculoskeletal disorders


  • Twisting the body while pushing a trolley around a corner.
  • Using an inappropriate trolley for the task.
  • Malfunctioning equipment.
  • Muscle strains from twisting, bending, and over-reaching.

What workers can do

  • Follow procedures for using lifting and moving devices.
  • Always push a trolley forward, and don’t pull the trolley.
  • Position the trolley as close to the items as possible.
  • Use the foot brakes while loading, if the trolley has them.
  • Use a semi-squat position to load the items.
  • Steer a trolley around a corner by stepping to the side and guiding the trolley in the same direction.
  • Move slowly while pushing a trolley around a corner, to lessen the risk of musculoskeletal strain during sudden bouts of exertion.

What employers can do

  • Provide a trolley that adapts to the weight in the trolley - as weight is removed, the floor of the trolley raises to ensure the user doesn’t have to bend down low to reach items.
  • Provide information training and instruction on the correct procedures for using lifting and moving devices.
  • Check to ensure that procedures are being followed by providing adequate supervision to workers who are new to the task.

Crush injury


  • The contents falling out of the box and onto the feet.
  • Unstable loads toppling over.

What workers can do

  • Check the item before you lift it, to look for any obvious deterioration in the box, canister or container. Deterioration can occur due to rodents, the item becoming wet, or environmental conditions which change often.
  • Don’t overload trolleys - it may only take a bump to knock the items off. Make another trip if necessary.

What employers can do

  • When purchasing a container, consider its life span, suitability to the task and how long you will be using it.
  • Use a professional archive or storage company to store items for long periods of time. They may have better environmental controls in place to prevent deterioration of boxes or containers.
  • Provide equipment, such as trolleys, to move heavy boxes long distances.
  • Provide instructions on appropriate load weights.
  • Offer manual handling training.

More information


  • See Ergonomic hazards for more information on physical factors in the environment that may cause musculoskeletal injuries and how to eliminate these hazards.



Page last reviewed: 01 March 2022

Comcare (Office Safety tool)
GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 |

Date printed 21 Apr 2024