Loading docks are typically a whirlwind of activity in warehouses, distribution centers, manufacturing plants, and many other industrial buildings where trucks are loading and unloading on a regular basis.
Loading docks can be one of the most hazardous areas in the workplace, not just for forklift operators or dock workers but also service technicians and bystanders.
Hazards can include:
- Falling off the edge of the dock
- Forklift accidents – overturning, improper use or loading
- Employees run over or into by trucks, forklifts and other motorized equipment
- Slips, trips, and falls, such as skidding or slipping in wet or icy conditions
- Trailer creep
- Unsecured loads or overloaded trucks
- Debris on the floor
- Improper lifting of materials
- Unguarded machinery
The best way to ensure safety in the loading dock area is to train your employees on safe work practices, ensure all rules are enforced and attach consequences when not followed.
A Few Loading Dock Safety Tips
- Secure trailers to the dock using a RIG-based vehicle restraint (rear impact guard).
- If you don’t have a RIG-based vehicle restraint to stop trailer creep and movement of a truck, use wheel chocks
- Paint the edges (or use bright yellow tape) of the loading dock to improve visibility. Other areas that benefit from improved visibility include walkways, doorways, and parking aisles.
- Train employees on the safe use of dock boards and dock plates. Improper placement of a dock board can cause a forklift to overturn.
- Use guarding devices. These help to keep equipment and pedestrian traffic safe. They also keep forklifts from damaging building corners or other parts of the structure.
- Train employees, especially forklift operators, on who has the right of way in the loading dock area.
- Clean and inspect the dock area on a regular basis, preferably daily.