A loading dock is a part of a building or facility where trucks load or unload goods and materials. They are usually part of industrial or commercial buildings, hospitals, and warehouses. They are meant to provide direct access to distribution areas, storage spaces, and freight elevators. Due to the volume of activity that occurs in these areas they present safety hazards to workers who handle loading/unloading tasks. Many accidents and injuries can occur at these sites from improper handling procedures such as lift trucks tipping or falling from docks, loads falling, or tractor-trailers being poorly operated. These types of accidents can cause serious injury. Other loading dock safety hazards include ramps and inclines, wet surfaces, poor lighting, pedestrian and vehicle traffic, accumulation of pallets/empty boxes/debris. OSHA requires lift operators to be trained in these types of hazards and how to prevent them (i.e. use of wheel chocks or other vehicle restraining devices when loading or unloading). For the safety of docks, companies must consider OSHA’s regulations regarding material handling, forklift safety, walking and working safety, and ANSI powered industry for truck safety.
- Loading Safety Practices:
- All employees must be provided with information and instructions for safe work practices.
- Barriers, warning signs, and other safe guards must be present in work areas with vehicles and materials handling equipment.
- Employees must operate only equipment on which they have been trained.
- Floors must be clean and uncluttered.
- Equipment must be inspected before use.
- If there are any concerns regarding falls or other hazards immediately bring them to the attention of your supervisor.
- Loading docks must have safe entries and exits for vehicles.
- Clear routes must be provided for pedestrians.
- Adequate light must be provided at the loading docks and inside trailers.
- Dumpsters must be located in a controlled area away from the general vehicle area.
- Trailers must be secured from moving (wheel chocks).
- Nobody should be in the trailer while a forklift enters or exits to load or unload.
Adjust trailer wheels for better balance whenever possible.