Safety at loading docks is one of the main concerns for industry managers and workers. According to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News portal, 25% of all industrial accidents happen at the loading dock.
The reason is that loading, handling and stacking materials are quite dangerous tasks and, as a consequence, hazards tend to happen when the right measures are not taken.
There are several ways to improve safety at loading docks. For instance, including dock restraint systems or training staff, but in most cases the best way to reduce risks for workers and for the material at the loading dock is by implementing a complete safety plan specially tailored to each place.
Below, we will go through some tips to improve safety at loading docks that will surely help you create a safer environment for your workers, the material you are dealing with and the machinery.
Most common accidents
The best way to start creating a safety plan for your loading dock is by analyzing which are the most common hazards.
After considering statistics and reports, we have come to four types of most common accidents.
First, the forklift-related accidents. Forklift are essential to loading docks but they are one of the main causes of hazard at the loading dock. The reason is that, when working fast, errors occur causing forklift to tumble, knock items or even make the loading material fall off edges. Forklift-related accidents are quite dangerous, both for workers and for the industry, since they cause massive damage toproperties, machinery and the material that was being loaded.
Second, truck movement while loading is another quite common cause of accidents. If the vehicle is not properly secured through dock restraint systems, it can fall through and cause a major accident affecting both workers and the company.
Third, fall-related accidents are quite usual in any business, but it can be particularly dangerous in a loading dock. Even though, tripping is not the most dangerous accident, it can cause injuries to workers.
Last, carbon monoxide-related accidents. When ventilation is not enough, the fuel used by machinery can create a poisoning atmosphere that is very dangerous for workers.
Tips for creating a safe loading dock
Below, we will share a list of tips you can use to create a safe working environment at your loading dock. Our recommendation is to train employees to learn the tips and to create a checklist in order to secure that all safety steps are taken.
1. Secure trucks and trailers
Before allowing employees to work near trucks and trailers, clock the wheels with a proper restraint system. This will avoid fall-through accidents.
2. Turn off motors
Establishing a motors-off rule for truck drivers is a great way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, you can install carbon monoxide alarms in order to constantly control the quality of the air.
3. Keep areas in order
Creating a system in which every area is identified through floor marks can help avoid many accidents. One of the most important things is to clearly mark walking areas in which forklifts are not allowed.
4. Install clear signals
Visual signals, such as traffic lights can really help organize traffic within the loading dock. Use them to clearly communicate how pedestrians and drivers should behave to avoid hazards.
5. Keep the loading dock clean
Regularly clean every area. This is very important not only to create a nice environment for workers, but mainly to avoid tripping, slipping and other very common accidents that can cause serious injuries to employees.
6. Avoid loose materials
Falling off edges is very common when loading, handling and stacking materials and it can cause serious accidents provoking injuries to people and massive damage to the company. The best way to avoid this type of accident is by securing loose materials before moving them.
7. Constant training
Last but not least, keep your employees trained on how to safely work at the loading dock, because even though incorporating safety technologies, light signals or safety measures will help you reduce risks, what will truly make the difference is that your employees fully comprehend and apply the safety rules on a daily basis.