The foundation of a safe loading dock is a quality policy that outlines expectations for safety.
Partner this policy with all the other aspects of Loading dock safety offered by EHS Center, and your company will have all the tools available for a safer loading dock.
Do you have other Loading Dock Safety needs? We also offer the following:
- Dock Safety Awareness
- Dock Safety Training
- Dock Safety Checklist/Audit
- Trailer Airline Lock Training
The policy here not only covers basics of loading dock safety but also covers physical security of the dock area, as that is an important aspect, that if neglected can create an unsafe working environment.
This policy is not all inclusive, as it specifically covers safety and security, but nothing concerning operations. Your company will need a policy/procedure for loading dock operations, since every workplace is different. Pairing this safety policy with a quality operation policy will provide a safe and secure environment in which employee productivity is optimized.
A quality loading dock safety policy should address the following risks employees face:
- Trailer Separation: This problem is common enough that it goes by several nicknames: trailer walk, dock walk and — most commonly — trailer creep. The weight of forklifts entering and exiting the trailer can cause it to gradually drift away from the dock until there is a dangerous gap between the trailer and the dock.
- Premature Departure: If a miscommunication occurs and a truck driver mistakenly pulls away from the dock prematurely, it could cause a forklift driver entering, exiting or inside of the trailer to be injured.
- Landing Gear Collapse: Damaged or weak landing gear on a trailer can suddenly fail, allowing the trailer to move. It could either pitch forward or swing off to one side. This can injure employees who are entering, exiting or inside of the trailer.
- Trailer Pop-Up and Up-Ending: Pop-up can occur when the weight of a loaded forklift entering the back end of the trailer causes the trailer to press down in the back and pop up in the front. Up-ending is the opposite, but equally dangerous, problem, where the trailer’s nose is forced down, causing the back to rise.
- Dock Shock: Dock shock refers to the health and safety hazard that lift truck operators experience when they are jarred by a bumpy transition crossing over from the warehouse floor to the loading dock.
- Unsecured Loads: When a load on a forklift or other powered truck isn’t properly secured, it can slide off, causing injury to the forklift driver or any other employees within close proximity.
- Lifting: Though not unique to loading docks, lifting equipment is also a common source of warehouse injuries and often occurs when employees are loading and unloading goods at the loading dock. Though a back strain may seem less serious than a fall or other injury, a first-time back injury can cost $10,000 and can put an employee out of commission for some time.
The following recommendations can improve safety on loading docks:
- Use portable jack stands when loading and unloading trailers to prevent potential tipping of lift trucks.
- Have all equipment maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations – this includes lift trucks, dock levelers, vehicle restraining devices, dock doors, and automatic signaling devices.
- Purchase forklifts with side shifting capability – they help to prevent product damage and promote safety by allowing the lift truck operator to perform the task with fewer movements and eliminating the need for the forklift to be right up against the wall of a trailer.
- To prevent injuries from lifting heavy materials, make sure all employees follow best practices for lifting.
- Make sure the dock area is well-lit and that lift trucks are equipped with spotlights so drivers can see everything in front of them, whether on the warehouse floor or in a semitrailer.
- Whenever possible, avoid having workers in trailers while a lift truck is loading or unloading.
- Perform a visual inspection of the trailer prior to driving a lift truck into it – damaged and rotting floorboards are common in older trailers.