Loading docks can be highly efficient hubs of activity with thousands of containers of varying sizes and weights being loaded, unloaded, and moved around all day long. When something goes wrong in that well-ordered chain of events, workers can be seriously injured or killed. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes that common injuries involving lift trucks (also known as forklifts) include those from a truck falling between an unsecured trailer and a loading dock, and from a forklift accidentally driving off the edge of a loading dock. A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report states that 27 percent of non-fatal workplace injuries in 2015 were due to slipping, falling, or tripping. Many of these 309,060 cases were on or near loading docks. There are three main dock hazards responsible for these injuries. Reducing these dangers will make your loading dock a much safer place.
- Restrain Your Trailers
To keep forklifts and workers from falling between a trailer and the loading dock, it's very important to secure the trailer against the building tightly. OSHA regulations require this for a good reason. As a trailer is loaded or unloaded, it can shift with the weight and motion of lift trucks driving in and out across the threshold. As the trailer and dock separate, further motion widens the gap until it becomes a serious hazard. Mechanical or powered restraints should be used to apply enough pressure on the rear wheels to keep the trailer from creeping away from the dock.
Even more dangerous is when the trailer truck driver doesn't realize that loading or unloading is still in progress and attempts to move the trailer. People and equipment inside the trailer or near the threshold could be seriously injured or killed as a result. To prevent this, LED safety communication lighting should be used to let trailer truck drivers and dock workers know when it's safe to move a trailer.
- Use Proper Impact Barriers
Loading dock doorways are more than four feet above the trailer driveway, high enough to cause serious injury if a worker or lift truck steps or topples over the edge. Rather than relying on chains and warning signs, dock levelers with durable steel barrier lips should be used to prevent forklifts and heavy equipment from getting too close to the edge. When it's safe to load or unload a trailer, a barrier lip can be lowered to allow equipment through. As a backup, a thick steel cable encased in fiberglass can provide a barrier strong enough to stop a moving lift truck.
- Dry Out Your Dock
Wet weather and condensation can contribute significantly to workers slipping and falling, and forklifts skidding and sliding. Exterior seals and weather-deflecting structures around openings help keep rain, hail, and snow outside. These may also include a way to remove water from a trailer's roof as it backs in. Inside the dock area, large, low-speed fans that move high volumes of air can help control condensation buildup on the floor, reducing the risk of slippage.
Upgrade Your Safety Today
Parts Brite can make your loading dock safer for your workers and equipment. We offer a complete line of high-quality aftermarket loading dock parts for every facility. With warehouses located in California and Wisconsin, we can quickly ship parts to anywhere in the U.S. Call us today toll-free at 1-855-PARTSBRITE (1-855-727-8727).