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Every year, forklift operators are injured or even killed because they didn’t take the time to properly chock and block the tires of a trailer before driving into it.
Gravity and shifting loads are two of the biggest reasons trailers start to roll when their tires haven’t been properly chocked. There have even been cases of operators being crushed by their own forklifts after stepping out of their cab just for a moment.
In other cases, forklift drivers have been injured when their vehicle fell between the dock edge and a trailer that started to roll away because its tires weren’t chocked.
To prevent this from happening, the wheels of trailers should always be chocked prior to starting any loading or unloading procedure. And forklift operators should always make sure the tires of a trailer have been chocked prior to driving their vehicles inside, as well as ensuring that the floor of the trailer is in good shape and strong enough to support the weight of their forklift.
What Chocks Do
The purpose of chocks is to lock the wheels in place and hold them stationary so that the trailer’s wheels can’t move.
But if the chock’s aren’t positioned properly, they won’t always prevent the wheels from rolling.
The best place to chock the wheels on a trailer is closest to the dock. This is especially important for a tandem-axle trailer. That’s because the weight of a forklift entering a trailer can exert a downward force, which helps pin the wheels more securely against the chocks.
If only the front axle is chocked, the forward motion of the forklift driving into the trailer could actually loosen the chock, causing the trailer to roll forward or even jump the chock.
Securing Freight Inside the Trailer
Chocks are also used to block or secure the freight inside the trailer to keep it from shifting. Cargo moving inside a trailer can damage the products and even shift the weight of the trailer so that it is more prone to overturning.
And it’s not only round-shaped cargo — such as reels or machinery on wheels — that needs to be chocked. Any type of freight can potentially shift during transit. So using chocks to block each item separately, on all four sides, is often necessary.
Using Blocks to Keep Cargo from Moving
Blocks can also be used to secure freight within trailers. When using blocks, it’s important that the nails are long enough to hold the block and that the lumber used is thick enough to stop the cargo from shifting without breaking.
Other freight should never be used as blocking to keep freight from moving.
When it comes to blocking, common sense is your best tool: If it looks like cargo could potentially move around, it probably will. Block it or chock it.
Chocks should always be available on loading docks to secure trailers. You should have at least one set of chocks for each bay on your dock.
It’s a good idea to fasten chocks to the dock using a chain or rope to prevent them from becoming lost or stolen.