Solution Summary: Portable Storage Utility Cart
A portable storage, or utility, cart is an engineering control that can reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) from manual material handling. These carts typically have shelves with leveled-surfaces or open-bins that roll on wheels to help carry tools and material.
Transporting tools between locations on a worksite can be a strenuous task. When portable work benches are not available, tools often are put on the floor, creating a safety hazard for other workers. Portable storage carts, such as those from Rubbermaid®, make transporting tools easier and allow for easy storage.
Figure 1. Varied of portable storage utility carts
Heavy lifting and carrying and stooped postures can cause low back disorders, such as muscle strain or a disc herniation (“slipped disc”), which is bulging of disc material possibly pressing on the spinal cord or nerves that go into the leg. Portable storage carts may help to reduce worker heavy lifting and carrying and stooped postures by providing workers with surface that can easily transport materials and, often times, double as a level work space at waist height.
How Risks are Reduced:
On nearly every construction site, tools need to be carried between different work locations. Tools are often heavy or difficult to carry, which increases stress on the worker’s body. After tools are moved to the site where they will be used, they are often placed on the floor, which creates a trip hazard. Work with the tools frequently takes place on the floor, causing awkward stooping of the back.
Manufacturers claim that portable storage cart design, along with specialized handles and casters, reduces muscle strain when transporting heavy loads. The top surface of many specialized carts, which double as work surfaces, are constructed of durable material that prevents cracking and shattering.
Effects on Productivity:
The use of portable storage carts has little or no impact on productivity.
The design of many of portable storage carts makes them versatile in different environments, but due to the wheels on most of the models, a smooth surface is required for safe transportation. Some of the models with larger wheels may be able to navigate rougher surfaces. However, other carts, especially when loaded down with 250-500 lbs, will be unable to roll over uneven or soft surfaces, such a gravel or dirt.
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC and Cassie Malecha, DPT – Eastern Washington University