Loading docks process thousands of containers each day and endure constant physical abuse in the areas where trucks take in and offload cargo. For most types of shipments, it doesn't matter if there's a perfect seal between the vehicle and the dock area.
Food shipped in a refrigerator or freezer truck is another consideration entirely. This food cargo must be kept in a specific low-temperature range as it is moved from inside the truck to the loading dock, and then into a refrigerator or freezer in the building for storage or vice versa. Any exposure to warm air or contaminants along the way could cause bacteria to form, making the food unsafe to eat. It could also impact the food's overall quality and taste, even if it is still safe to consume. Here are three areas of your loading dock that need to be in perfect operating condition to help comply with the recent Food Safety Modernization Act's guidelines for handling food safely.
- Install Dock Levelers for a Better Seal
To keep warm or hot outside air from penetrating your loading area, dock levelers (especially the newer vertically-stored models) should be installed on the same plane as the floor. The levelers work together with quality dock seals and insulated dock doors to prevent any outside air or contaminants from reaching sensitive food cargo on your loading dock.
- Keep Your Dock Seals in Top Condition
Be sure to check the integrity of the exterior seals periodically to verify they are in good operating condition. If they are damaged or worn, they need to be replaced so that heated air and contaminants don't infiltrate and put your food cargo at risk. When trailer after trailer of cargo is unloaded or loaded at the dock, these seals are frequently bumped by the trucks as they pull in, shortening their useful lifespan. If the seals aren't working at peak performance, in the best case you'll incur higher refrigeration bills as your system tries to compensate for the incoming warm air, and in the worst case, you'll have compromised or spoiled food cargo as a result of contaminants or temperatures that have risen too high on your dock.
- Prevent Your Trailers from Slipping or Creeping
It's critically important to keep a trailer tightly secured against the loading dock. OSHA regulations require this to reduce the number of accidents that happen when a worker or forklift falls into a gap that has opened up between the trailer and the building. Any separation caused by trailer motion during the loading or unloading process can allow warm (and potentially hot) outside air and contaminants into your climate-controlled dock, putting your refrigerated or frozen food cargo at risk of thawing or bacteria formation.
At a minimum, wheel chocks should be used to keep a trailer in place. A more secure solution for all weather conditions is to use mechanical or powered restraints attached to the trailer's rear impact guard. These restraints will apply enough pressure to the trailer's rear wheels to prevent it from creeping or slipping away from the dock.
Make Your Dock Safer for Food Cargo Today
Parts Brite can help you make your loading dock safer for food and other temperature-sensitive cargo. We offer a comprehensive selection of high-quality aftermarket loading dock parts for facilities all over the United States. We ship from warehouses in Wisconsin and California, so it won't take long for your parts to arrive anywhere in the country. Call us toll-free today at 1-855-PARTSBRITE (1-855-727-8727).