6 Items You Need to Improve Loading Dock Safety

May 15, 2019

With employees and trucks constantly coming in and out of your loading dock area to load/unload assets, it is one of the busiest sections of your warehouse. As such, dock safety should be a top concern and priority for your business.

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to not only follow all safety guidelines required by OSHA, but to go the “extra mile” to ensure the safety of anyone that may be in or around your dock and door area.

That’s why we’ve compiled this list of six dock equipment items you should be utilizing to minimize risk of injury to both people and warehouse assets. Here is why you need these dock equipment items and how they can help you improve your dock safety:

Item #1 to Improve Loading Dock Safety: Trailer Restraints

Trailer restraints are used to prevent a truck from moving during the process of loading and unloading assets. This is done by locking the trailer in place with restraints that prevent any back-and-forth rocking motions. Sometimes referred to as “trailer creep,” this unexpected trailer movement can leave employees stepping out onto open air, cause ramps to fall off while moving heavy pallets, or crush part of an employee’s body between the trailer and the loading dock.

Without these back and forth movements, the risk of personal injury or destruction to assets is significantly decreased. To fully maximize the safety benefits of trailer restraints, it’s important to use them consistently and establish a clear policy for their use. Employees should not only be using the restraints, but always double-checking them to ensure the trailer is secure before any loading or unloading begins.

Item #2 to Improve Loading Dock Safety: Barrier Lips

Barrier lips create a positive stop for forklift trucks. This prevents forklift trucks from accidentally or prematurely driving over the dock’s edge. The barrier lip leveler also provides full-time protection not only in a cross traffic position, but also when end-loading. This is important as it can be the most vulnerable time for a truck to depart before it is safe to do so.

The barrier then automatically disappears when the leveler descends onto a truck. This offers a smooth transition between the platform and lip so warehouse workers can safely load and unload assets.

Item #3 to Improve Loading Dock Safety: Bar Lift Barriers

Bar lift barriers prevent lift trucks from driving or backing off the edge of the dock. This can be incredibly dangerous to truck drivers, warehouse staff working on or around the loading dock, your inventory, or any pedestrians that happen to be walking by.

Bar lift barriers also protect the overhead dock door from colliding with forklift trucks. Your trucks, the inventory they carry, and your loading dock and door equipment can be expensive. Preventing these collisions keeps your valuable equipment safe and prevents you from having to pay for costly repairs.

Item #4 to Improve Loading Dock Safety: Dock Alerts

Dock communication systems can be used to send out an alert that prevents trailers from pulling away too soon. This establishes a clear line of communication between truck drivers and warehouse staff that may be loading or unloading assets from the truck (which is more effective than a truck driver trying to yell “Am I ready to pull away now?” out of their window).

It’s important to establish a clear policy with your warehouse staff so everyone involved knows a truck should not move or pull away from the loading dock until an alert is sent. After all inventory has been loaded or unloaded, the truck should be completely closed and staff should be a safe distance from the vehicle before it begins to move. This can help to minimize risk for accidents at the loading dock (such as a staff member who was not done unloading inventory falling off the dock because the driver was not aware he was there and the truck pulled away too soon).

Item #5 to Improve Loading Dock Safety: Dock Lightning

The proper dock lighting ensures that operators can see while they’re inside dark trailers to load and unload inventory. If your warehouse only operates during daylight hours, you still need to have adequate lighting around both the interior and exterior of your dock area. Dock lighting also helps to warn pedestrians near the warehouse dock area that a truck is ready to move. Additionally, a well-lit loading dock means employees are able to actually see what they’re doing—allowing them to work more safely and efficiently.

It’s also important to conduct regular safety checks on warning lights and trailer restraint lights in order to determine if any preventive maintenance if necessary. After all, your dock lighting will be useless if a bulb is out or so dim that it can barely be seen because it is about to die.

Item #6 to Improve Loading Dock Safety: Safety Gates

Safety gates guard the pedestrian walkways in and around the dock and door area. This helps you go the “extra mile” to not only ensure the safety of your own employees and assets, but the safety of anyone that may be passing by your dock area as well.

Accidents do happen, and if a piece of inventory falls off the loading dock or a vehicle somehow manages to pull away too soon, that last thing you want is an innocent bystander to be in harm’s way. Safety gates clearly mark your dock area, discouraging and obstructing anyone who isn’t involved in the loading/unloading process from getting too close to the action.

With the help of these six items, your loading dock can transform into a much safer place. However, it isn’t enough to simply install this dock equipment in your warehouse then never think about it again. True success will come from conducting regular safety checks to identify any problems that may potentially arise. This way, they can be effectively handled by preventative maintenance rather than waiting for something to go wrong that puts your inventory or employees in serious danger.

That’s why Southern States Enterprises offers planned preventative maintenance programs and has a team of dock repair specialists ready to respond quickly to equipment breakdowns. This gives you peace of mind while preventing excessive downtime that means lost revenue for your business.

Ready to leverage our highly-reliable, proven products and scheduled maintenance plans to meet all of your warehouse storage and equipment needs? Contact us today!

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