Working on a loading dock can be dangerous.
With many trucks coming and going, large pallets being moved around, forklifts driving back and forth, heavy items being stacked up higher than they should… it’s all just inviting an accident to take place. There are thousands of injuries that occur in loading docks every year, and those are just the ones that are reported—many minor accidents or near-accidents aren’t.
Many of these occur because people aren’t aware of the dangers. Knowing where the dangerous areas are and how to avoid common loading dock dangers makes it much less likely that you’ll get injured.
Know Forklift Safety
Every year, forklifts are involved in almost 70,000 loading dock accidents. Many of these occur because the operator or someone nearby isn’t paying attention. For example, almost 5,000 of these accidents happen because the driver drives or backs off the loading dock. If the driver is aware of the area and the people in it while operating a forklift, the number of accidents would be greatly reduced. Those working around forklifts also need to pay attention to the vehicle.
Another way of reducing loading dock accidents involving forklifts is to install things like dock boards or railings in areas where forklifts may drive off the area. While this may not always be possible on loading docks, it should be done in most areas where possible.
Stop Trailer Creep
“Trailer creep” occurs when a trailer slowly creeps forward while backed up to a loading dock. This often happens with trailers that make use of an air-ride suspension. The trailer very gradually moves away from the dock because of the movement of the forklifts going in and out and the shifting of the trailer’s weight. There are a few different options to combat trailer creep. Many docks have some form of locking device that can be used on the rear wheels or the rear impact guard.
The traditional yet somewhat ineffective means of stopping trailer creep is to use wheel chocks. These small yet heavy items are placed in front of the trailer’s front wheels and help stop the trailer from moving forward. However, they aren’t as effective as many people believe, and trailer creep can still occur even when wheel chocks are in place.
Make Sure the Floors are Maintained
Damaged or broken flooring is another cause of loading dock accidents. A wooden floor can often start to sag after years of large loads being moved across it. The wooden support structures can also start to rot or wear down, causing the floor to sag even more or, worse, completely give away.
Concrete floors, while more durable than wood floors, will also show signs of wear and tear after years of use. Heavy equipment can cause the cement to crack or chip, weakening the area even more. People could trip over these chipped, uneven surfaces, plus moisture could enter the cracks and lead to mold growth, which presents a whole other type of health hazard.
Finally, good communication can help prevent many different loading dock dangers. This doesn’t just include communication between dock workers, although that it vital. It also includes communication between the workers and the warehouse managers to identify areas such as damaged floors or missing dock boards.
What other suggestions do you have for avoiding dock dangers? What safety training do you have implemented in your warehouse? Comment below to join the conversation!