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05 April 2006

Old supermarket trolleys can land you in hospital

A little over two years ago when our youngest daughter was 26 days old she was rushed by ambulance and admitted to hospital because of a defective shopping trolley. Had she been in the trolley seat rather than in a car seat in the trolley, the consequences could have been a lot more serious as she would have been a lot less protected. More than two years later, the shop in question still has equally ancient shopping trolleys that could result in a similar accident.

I'm not mentioning the shop in question not because of legal reasons (we have now settled financially with the shop) but because all of the major supermarket chains seem to be just as bad as each other and it would be unfair to draw particular attention to one of them. My aim with this posting is to raise the issue to avoid the problem happening anywhere, not just in the store we visited.

What happened is that we parked the car, carried the baby from the car to the trolley park in the car park and then pushed the baby in the trolley from the car park to the shop, a distance of about 20 metres. The trolley pushed fine and was perfectly stable, even going over a few kerbs.

Once in the shop, however, one of the front legs of the trolley almost completely snapped off. It looked like it had been hacksawed but subsequent investigation simply showed it was stress. The trolley wheel ended up pointing upwards and the leg had a 180 degree bend in it. The fact that the trolley was moving, now only had three legs on the ground and was top heavy with a baby in it resulted in it tipping over and the baby landing with the trolley on top of her in the food display area. She was asleep at the time and did not wake at the time of the accident.

With a bump on her head, and being only 26 days old, the ambulance was called and she was admitted to A&E and subsequently to the children's ward for an X-ray.

Fortunately two years later she is doing fine and there are thankfully no apparant long term effects.

However, had she not been protected by her car seat things would likely have been a lot worse. Similarly with our two older children who were a good bit heavier, had it been them then the trolley would have collapsed with even more impact.

My concern here is that if ancient trolleys can simply snap due to stress, why are so many ancient trolleys still in circulation? Subsequent to the accident we took a much greater interest in shopping trolleys and were shocked to note that actually trying to put the two older children in a safe trolley was a significant challenge as few of the trolleys had two working belts to keep the children in safely.

Shops often post notices about telling them about wonky trolleys with dodgy steering and so on. Yet, many of the major supermarket groups have trolleys that lie around for months with broken safety belts and have trolleys in use for years until they become potential deathtraps and collapse catastrophically with no warning and endangering the life of any children in them. Equally an old person pushing a trolley that collapses could end up in hospital with a broken hip.

With the profits that these shops are making, is it not time that they took more interest in trolley safety, made sure that safety belts actually worked properly and retired trolleys from use before they became deathtraps?


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