What To Do To Ensure Loading Dock Safety

Striving to achieve the safest work environment should be foremost in the minds of warehouse owners and managers. Safety is essential to assure a workable and friendly environment for employees and also helps assure that the products stored there are not damaged.

One of the most important sections of a warehouse where safety should be priority one is the loading dock.

Four things you can do to ensure safety on your loading dock includes:

• Invest in proper loading and unloading equipment
• Assure that pedestrians are not close to the truck drive approach
• Check the condition of the flooring
• Use equipment to prevent theft and contamination

Invest In Proper Loading And Unloading Equipment

Dock accidents can occur in a number of ways. For example, a forklift loads or unloads an unsecured trailer resulting in the truck’s movement from the dock. This is referred to as “Trailer Creep.” Another example is when the driver of a trailer starts to leave early thinking that the loading or unloading is complete as a forklift begins to enter. These examples are accidents waiting to happen.

These problems can be prevented if your dock is equipped with vehicle restraints and dock levelers to bridge the gap between the trailer and dock.

Other ways to ensure against this from being an issue at your dock is to:

• Monitor the load capacity of the dock plate and leveler and account for the weight of the load, forklift, and employee who is moving the load.
• Inspect the equipment for wear, corrosion, or material failure.
• Place the dock plate with at least 8-inches of overlap on each end.
• Assign a certified specialist to inspect the hydraulic dock plates at least once a year.
• Paint the edges of the plate and consider a lip to prevent forklifts and people from falling from it.

Assure That Pedestrians Are Not Close To The Truck Drive Approach

Prevent potential accidents from happening by:

• Train workers every 6 to 12 months on how to avoid accidents when trucks approach the dock.
• Create and exhibit easy to understand signage to warn workers of the potential of accidents.
Denote with tape or paint the areas in which employees can walk safely.
• Remind workers to walk in assigned areas.
• Invest in a light communication system. Most of these systems use red and green lights that help regulate the movement of employees and machinery.
• Use corner and curved ceiling mirrors in places with low visibility including corners and doorways.
• Assign an employee to stand at the side of the truck to direct drivers away from the dock.
• Always assure that forklift operators and vehicle drivers are visually aware of each other.

Check The Condition Of The Flooring

Trailer parked at a loading dock.
(Courtesy: gg1electrice60 at flickr.com

Many dock accidents occur because the floor is damaged or oil, water, or chemicals have spilled onto the floor or rain or snow enters through open spaces. All of this can be the reason for accidents.

These problems can be avoided by:

• Repairing any damage to the floor.
• Monitoring the condition of the floor in the loading dock regularly.
• Keep the floor and dock plates dry, clean up spills immediately.
• If you can’t clean up immediately, then cover the spill with sawdust to assure the workers have traction when walking in the area.

Use Equipment To Prevent Theft And Contamination

When coming up with a plan for preventing accidents, don’t neglect the possibility of theft or contamination. Cargo theft occurs regularly because trailers go unnoticed. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, $30 billion worth of cargo is stolen each year. Contamination happens when there are broken seals in non-climate-controlled environments. You should be aware that open doors expose inventory to external influence and fluctuating temperatures.

Avoid these problems by:

• Using a vehicle restraint to secure a trailer or truck at the dock where it is noticed.
• Bridge the gap between the trailer bed and loading dock floor with a vertical dock leveler. The leveler will help to cover open space and thus maintain temperature and humidity.
• Consider installing automatic vehicle restraint systems, trailer seals, and vertical dock levelers.

(Source: tmhnc.com)