The NHS Forth Valley identified a manual-handling problem with laundry trolleys at Stirling Royal Infirmary. Night Porters took large heavy trolleys up to the wards with laundry supplies to last through the night. On Thursday nights they were taking up enough supplies for three days. Linen staff filled the trolleys and, due to size constraints, duvets and blankets were placed on top of the trolleys. This created visibility problems when pushing them.
The solution was the purchase of hand operated motorised tugs. These are battery operated electrical motors, which can be attached, using a tow bar, to the trolleys. The trolleys no longer need to be pushed with physical force, just steered. The Hospital uses these at night for the linen allowing the batteries to be recharged during the day. The Porters were given Manual Handling training in attaching the tugs to the trolleys and using the motors. In addition, the Hospital put up mirrors at corridor junctions and 'Tugs in Operation' signs to improve safety.
The idea of attaching motorized tugs to trolleys can probably be used in many types of workplaces. The tugs are suitable for most types of trolley provided the trolley has been adapted to accept a tow bar. The changes were made in response a risk assessment, however financial and other benefits have also been identified.