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Loading docks are one of the most dangerous areas of any warehouse or factory. With so many vehicles and people coming together in a closely confined space, the opportunity for disaster is huge.
According to the American Supply Association, about 25% of all industrial workplace accidents occur at the loading dock. And many of these accidents involve forklifts.
And many of these accidents involve forklifts. In 2015, there were 96,785 forklift accidents reported in the US, according to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Of these, an estimated 35%, or 35,000, resulted in a worker either being killed or seriously injured.
Accessories for Improving Loading Dock Safety
One of the most common types of loading dock accidents occurs when forklifts drive or fall over the edge of a loading dock. These types of accidents can be reduced by using three types of dock accessories:
- Dock levelers
- Vehicle restraints
- Safety barriers
Dock levelers create a bridge between the dock or warehouse floor and the trailer bed, filling the gap that forklifts and workers can sometimes fall into. Hydraulic dock levelers have the added benefit of remaining level even if the trailer unexpectedly pulls away from the dock.
Vehicle restraints can help avoid this accident by tying the trailer to the dock plate. It also helps prevent the momentum of loading and unloading from causing the trailer to creep forward, expanding the dangerous gap between the dock floor and the trailer.
Safety barriers include things like gates, bars, and lips that protect the dock door from being accidentally struck by a forklift.
4. Communication Lights
One of the most common causes of dock accidents is the trailer unexpectedly pulling away from the dock before the loading or unloading process is completed. An effective solution is to install communication lights that flash red or green, depending on whether or not it is safe for forklifts to enter the trailer.
Communication indicator lights can be integrated with leveler and restraint controls to automatically change color based on whether the restraint is engaged or not.
5. Training and Rules Enforcement
The final way to improve dock safety is to have rules regulating the movement of trucks, forklifts and other vehicles on the dock, then enforcing those rules consistently every day.
All the safety equipment in the world isn’t going to make any difference if workers aren’t familiar with workplace rules or ignore them regularly. Work rules only work if supervisors and managers are willing to enforce them.
Using safety equipment like levelers, restraints, safety barriers, and communications lights, combined with training and rules enforcement can make your dock safer and dramatically reduce the number of workplace accidents.