Everything You Need to Know About Dock Boards

Safety in a warehouse is vital.

If anyone is injured, it can cost the warehouse thousands of dollars or more in medical costs, not to mention the cost of replacing any equipment that was damaged in the process. That’s why every warehouse manager needs to be aware of the different pieces of safety equipment a warehouse needs. One of the most basic safety items is the dock board.

What is a Dock Board?

When a trailer full of products to be stored backs up to a loading dock, there is often a short gap between the two surfaces. This gap may not seem like it’s that large, but even the smallest gap can cause accidents. One way of overcoming this problem is to put down a dock board. These metal (usually steel, but sometimes aluminum) ramps bridge the gap and allow people and forklifts to move between the truck and the loading dock easily and without fear of accidents.

How do Dock Boards Differ from Dock Plates?

Dock plates can also be used to bridge the gap between a trailer and dock, but while they are similar to dock boards, they’re not the same. Dock plates are generally only made out of aluminum, so they’re not able to hold as much weight as a dock board. They’re also designed differently. Dock boards feature reinforced curbs on either side that help increase the amount of weight they can hold, while dock plates do not. Dock boards can hold forklifts, while dock plates cannot. Also, because of their lack of curbs, it’s easier to run off or fall off of a dock plate than it is a dock board.

What do you Need to Know to Select a Dock Board?

Selecting the right type of dock board for your warehouse is vital. If the board cannot hold the weight of a forklift plus the product it’s carrying, it could collapse. Here are the basic things you have to know before you can purchase and use a dock board:

  • What maximum total weight (including the forklift, its load, and its operator) will be used on the dock board?
  • How long of a dock board do you need?
  • How wide of a dock board do you need?
  • What’s the maximum difference in height between your loading dock and the truck? (Note: the dock should always be lower than the trailer. If it’s not, you may need to use wheel risers instead of a dock board).

You also need to decide if you want your dock board to be made out of steel or aluminum. There are some weight restrictions on aluminum boards, plus they are also more expensive because of the cost of materials.

Preventing Slipping

Finally, be warned that it is possible for dock boards to slip between the dock and the truck. Some boards attach to the underside to prevent this. However, if the gap between the dock and the trailer looks large enough that the board could slip, you may need to use a span-lock to keep the board in position.

What questions do you have about dock boards? Want to know if they’re right for your warehouse? Join the conversation below and let us know your questions! 

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