How-To Guide

How to Create a Safe Loading Dock Area

 Posted: Sept 23rd, 2020
How to Create a Safe Loading Dock Area

A large portion of loading dock safety relies heavily on your team. By providing them with safety training, and ensuring that the loading dock area is free of hazards and properly equipped, you will minimize risk of employee injury as well as damage to goods, trucks and equipment.

Some of the most common injuries that occur on loading docks result from:

  • Unsecured dock plates
  • Falls off dock edges
  • Un-chocked or improperly chocked trailer wheels
  • Improper lifting and carrying techniques
  • Careless behavior around forklifts and equipment
  • Uneven or slick floors
  • carbon monoxide inhalation from trucks

So how do you keep your workplace incident-free? Besides proving regular training, here are the tools, tips, and products that can help:

Keep Surrounding Floors Clean, Dry and Clear

Keep common walking and driving areas clear of spills, trash, packaging material and any obstacles. If a spill occurs, alert trained responders and follow material safety sheets depending on the nature of the spill. Any cracks or uneven floor surfaces should be identified and fixed as soon as possible. Guard rails, bollards, and barriers can help designate walking zones and driving zones so that forklift operators can quickly and easily avoid collisions with people and equipment.

Forklift Malfunctions
Forklift Malfunctions
Injury from Heavy Machinery
Injury from Heavy Machinery
Slipping or Tripping
Slipping or Tripping
Unsecured Loads
Unsecured Loads
Sharp Edges & Objects
Sharp Edges & Objects
Lifting Injury
Lifting Injury
Common Loading Dock Hazards

Stay Safe Around Truck and Trailers

Wheels and exhaust are two of the biggest safety hazards that semi-trucks bring to any loading dock work environment. Carbon monoxide emissions from truck exhaust can cause unconsciousness and illness, and are especially dangerous because they are invisible and carry no smell. Make sure drivers turn off their motors promptly as soon as they’re safely docked. Truck and trailer wheels should be chocked before any loading or unloading takes place, so there is no risk of a jolt moving the tires or slipping the dock plate out of place.

Ensure Dock Plates are Placed Correctly

Once a dock plate has been placed, slide it into position and made sure it is secure. Never drop a dock plate into position because this could result in damage or injury. Always double check that the dock plate being used has a high enough weight capacity to handle the cargo that is being loaded or unloaded, along with the weight of your forklift or pallet jack and their operator.

Practice Safe Workplace Etiquette and Constant Vigilance

In addition to dressing appropriately with proper footwear and protective gear (if required), maintaining constant awareness of other employees, vehicles, cargo and the loading dock environment is the best way to stay safe while on the job. The rest falls under common sense workplace etiquette – always maintain a safe distance from loading dock edges, never jump up or off a loading dock, and never run in the loading dock area.

Load and Unload Using Appropriate Equipment, Protection and Posture

When moving light cargo, steal a couple of tips from professional weight lifters – always wear protective gloves, and bend with your knees, never your back! There will always be another load, but you’ll never have another body. Use your powerful legs instead of your spine.

Load hand trucks with the heaviest items at the bottom, and make sure everything is secure and balanced before you start rolling. While maneuvering a stacked hand truck, you should be able to see over the top.

Use forklifts and jacks to move palletized product, and always make sure you confirm that the weight of palletized load is less than the capacity of the equipment you’re using.

Make workplace safety the top priority at your loading docks. In addition to these tips, it’s crucial that that every employee receives the training and certification they need in order to perform their responsibilities safely and diligently.