While a loading dock is an important utility infrastructure commonly found in commercial and industrial buildings, it can be a potentially dangerous place for anyone that works on or around the area. From 2004 to 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated 209 injuries and nearly half were fatalities.
Loading Dock Hazards
The loading dock area must be inspected regularly to identify potential hazards that may include:
- Slips, trips and falls caused by floor conditions, poor housekeeping, or dock edge.
- Forklifts overturning.
- Pedestrian and powered truck collision.
- Trailer creep, which can cause a gap between the trailer and dock.
- Moving unsecured loads.
- Struck by and being crushed by an object or load.
- Back injuries from improper lifting or carrying.
- Inadequate lighting especially in the trailer.
- Carbon monoxide exposure from truck and powered material-handling equipment.
Controlling Loading Dock Hazards
Cal/OSHA regulations require employers to prevent trucks and trailers from pulling away from the dock before the loading and unloading operation is complete. You can reduce loading dock hazards by:
- Shutting off the engine and engaging the break while loading or unloading vehicle.
- Preventing trailer creep by using wheel chocks and vehicle restraints.
- Painting the edges of the loading dock to improve visibility.
- Providing physical barriers at dock edges when not in use.
- Ensuring dock plates have appropriate capacity, stability, and proper placement.
- Preventing employees from riding on material handling equipment.
- Posting and enforcing speed limits for industrial trucks.
- Making sure all personnel are trained in dock safety.
- Providing adequate lighting at the dock and in trailers.
- Shrink-wrapping loose product for transport or storage.
- Maintaining good housekeeping and cleaning up the area regularly.
Evaluating and developing operating procedures to increase general awareness and providing employee training and enforcement of safety practices can improve loading dock safety.