Loading docks form the heart of every businesses logistics network. As places where heavy packages are constantly being moved, often by heavy machinery, they’re also prone to accidents. Managing risk in these environments is of the utmost importance, for the well-being of workers and the good of the business.
In this article, we partnered with Joloda Hydraroll to look at how to implement safe practices in loading docks. These insider tips will ensure you keep any work environment as safe a place as possible.
Keep surfaces dry and clean
One of the biggest hazards in loading docks is the presence of slippery liquids on the floor. Walking surfaces can become incredibly slick when rain or snow are walked in. Make sure that seals are present at all dock doors, and that they’re fitted appropriately. Loose canopies will often leak when it rains; not only does this pose a risk to employee safety, it can also potentially lead to the damage of products being transported.
Prevent drive aways
A common accident in loading docks is when vehicle operators pull away from the dock while the trailer is still in the process of being filled. This can lead to severe injury, as well as damaged equipment. A very effective way of avoiding this is to have a waiting room for drivers to stay in while the trailer is being loaded. This can be equipped with a kettle and some snacks, giving drivers a chance to take a quick break while also ensuring that the trailer isn’t moved before it’s fully prepared for transit.
Ensure weight limits aren’t exceeded
Each part of the logistics system has a weight rating that needs to be kept in mind. This ranges from the heaviest load that workers can safely move, to the weight rating of each specific industrial vehicle. Dock levellers also have weight limitations, generally between 11,000kg and 36,000kg. ensuring that the weight limit of each piece of machinery is clearly listed will help to ensure that accidents are kept to a minimum.
Visual and physical barriers
Another common safety risk in loading docks is the danger of falling from ledges. The most common fall risk is from dock platforms, but as a highly three-dimensional storage environment, there will likely be other ledges that need protecting. For platforms over 4ft in height, a physical barrier such as a guardrail is advisable. For platforms under 4ft in height, strong visual barriers such as reflective tapes or other visible paint are advisable.
If traffic control is left down to individual operators, loading docks can become chaotic and therefore highly dangerous. Have clear markings to direct traffic flow, and provide adequate training on company procedure to all staff members.
Forklift trucks are one of the most high-risk pieces of machinery in most docking facilities, accounting for a significant proportion of accidents. Ensuring that all operators are trained to a high level will also contribute to the safety of the facility.