A warehouse dock is often one of the busiest areas of any warehouse operation. After all, it’s where all of the products that a warehouse carries must pass through on their way in or out. In addition to the coming and going of trucks and forklifts, they’re also heavy foot traffic areas. Poor warehouse dock maintenance can lead to a range of problems, including:
- Damage to products;
- Damage to vehicles;
- Delays in loading/unloading operations;
- Pest infestations; and
- Injuries to workers.
Maintaining your warehouse dock area can be vital for ensuring smooth and efficient warehouse operations—not to mention avoiding the costs of workman’s comp claims, missed deadlines, and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) investigations.
So, which warehouse dock items should you double-check ASAP to ensure safe and efficient operations? Here are a few:
1: Warehouse Dock Doors
Checking the condition of warehouse dock doors is a crucial dock maintenance checklist item. When checking each warehouse dock door, inspect the following:
- Door Opening/Closing System. Because these systems vary from one type of dock door to the next, it’s hard to be especially specific about what to check here. However, whatever the system used to move the door, it’s important to make sure it’s free of hang-ups.
- Door Sections. Are all of the door’s panels or sections present? If so, what condition are they in? Missing or dented door panels/sections could interfere with the door’s operation—not to mention ruin the door’s ability to keep out the elements when closed.
- Weather Seals. Are the weather seals along the bottom, sides, and top of the door creating a complete enclosure? Are they dry, cracked, or split? The condition of these seals helps to determine how well the dock door keeps out moisture and pests.
Of these warehouse dock door inspection points, the weather seals are the most frequently missed. Missing door sections tend to be obvious, and faulty or stiff door closing/opening systems reveal themselves quickly enough during regular use. Cracked weather seals that leave gaps, on the other hand, are harder to notice without a close inspection.
However, despite seeming minor, it is important to check these seals regularly since gaps or cracks in the weather seal could provide entry points for insects, rats, and other pests while letting out climate-controlled air. The pests can damage products and pallets in your warehouse, while the loss of climate-controlled air can lead to larger electric bills as your HVAC system has to work harder to compensate.
2: Warehouse Dock Ramps
The ramps used to bridge the gap between a trailer and the warehouse dock door need to be inspected frequently for signs of wear and tear between uses. After all, these ramps may have to support the full weight of a forklift and a pallet of goods—it would not do for the ramp to bend or break while the forklift is partway to the threshold.
When checking warehouse dock ramps, be sure to check for signs of metal fatigue, dents, rust, or any other indicators of damage to the ramp itself. For mechanized dock leveler systems, be sure to check the hydraulic components for missing or broken parts, or signs of a leak. If the hydraulics are leaky, then they may fail unexpectedly during use.
By frequently inspecting your warehouse dock ramps, you should be able to spot any problems early enough to prevent a potentially fatal accident.
3: Trailer Restraints
Trailer restraints are important for helping to keep a truck’s trailer securely in place so the connection between the trailer, the ramp, and the warehouse dock entry. Whether the restraints are RIG-dependent (meaning they utilize the trailer’s rear impact guard) or are simple wheel chocks, they should be kept in good condition to avoid problems.
For RIG-dependent trailer restraints, the mechanisms for attaching the restraints should be checked for signs of wear, especially any hinges or hydraulic-activated levers (specific mechanisms will vary by make and model). Wheel chocks should be checked for cracks or other signs of imminent breakage.
4: Warehouse Dock Lights
Even warehouses that only operate during daylight hours need to have adequate lighting around their loading dock areas—both on the interior and exterior. In particular, safety warning lights and trailer restraint lights should be checked at least once each week—if not more frequently.
These warning lights serve an important purpose in helping to warn pedestrians near the warehouse dock area that the truck may be ready to move. Also, keeping the warehouse dock well-lit helps employees work more safely and efficiently, reducing time wasted or lost to accidents and injuries.
5: Warehouse Dock Shelters
Externally-mounted warehouse dock door shelters, if installed, should be routinely inspected for signs of wear and tear. Moving components should be checked on a monthly or quarterly basis to verify that they can easily extend over the rear of a trailer and retract when finished. Shelter materials should be checked for holes or tears that may allow outside rain or pests in when the shelter is in use.
Warehouse dock door shelters can easily be damaged by reversing trailers if said trailers are misaligned with the dock entry. So, the frames of the shelters should also be inspected for warps or bends in the material.
Keeping dock shelters in good condition helps to protect warehouse workers from inclement weather during loading and unloading operations—as well as keeping out many pests.
6: General Warehouse Dock Area Checks
Aside from checking the doors, shelters, seals, lights, and other specific loading dock equipment, it’s important to check the condition of the area surrounding the loading dock. This general dock maintenance check should include:
- Warehouse Dock Cleanliness. Is the loading dock area free of excess debris and obstacles that could impede the movement of trailers, pedestrians, and forklifts? Clearing out these obstacles can help improve warehouse operations by making loading/unloading safer and more efficient.
- Mobile Equipment Safety Lights. Are your forklifts and other mobile equipment utilizing the proper safety lights and alarms active to ensure high visibility? While not part of the dock, per se, it’s important to check such mobile equipment to keep warehouse dock operations as safe and efficient as possible.
- Safety Signage. Is all OSHA-mandated safety signage in place to remind workers about important safety protocols? Keeping this signage up not only helps you meet OSHA regulations, but it also helps employees remain aware of important safety hazards.
These are just a few different aspects of warehouse dock maintenance that you will want to check at least periodically. For more help and advice about improving your warehouse operations to be safer and more efficient, contact Southern States Dock & Door today!