Top five warehouse injury areas:
- Loading docks
- Materials storage
- Manual lifting and handling
Loading docks are the most prone out of all warehouse areas for injury. We can assume this is the case because there are many moving, motorized pieces of equipment that have to work together, which increases the chance for human error. View this loading dock safety checklist to make sure your loading dock is safe and secure.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the most common types of loading-dock related injuries occur when a forklift runs off the dock or when product falls off and strikes a worker. Unfortunately, semi-trailers often pull away from the dock unexpectedly or the truck shifts while the lift-truck operator is either entering, exiting or still inside the trailer. This is due to lack of communication between the trailer driver and loading dock coordinator(s) along with a lack of proper securing. Another common cause of loading dock injury is “trailer creep”, which is caused by the weight of the lift truck that makes a separation between the trailer and dock leveler.
Here are the 10 most recent dock-related injury descriptions:
- Employee crushed and killed between a truck and loading dock
- Worker crushed by dock level is killed
- Worker is killed in fall from loading dock
- Employee is crushed when fork lift drops off a loading platform
- Employee is struck and killed by falling truck wall panel
- Employee is crushed when forklift falls from loading dock
- Employee sustains heart attack and dies
- Employee is caught in between a tractor trailer and the loading dock
- Employee crushed by forklift
- Employee is crushed between truck and dock and is killed
To ensure the safety of employees and reduce the chances of dock accidents, a systematic safety strategy should be put in place. Below are a few of the main safety steps to take:
- Restrain the trailer
- There are multiple ways to restrain the trailer so that it does not move. Industrial wheel chocks are wedges of a heavy material that are placed in front of and/or behind the vehicle’s wheel(s) to prevent it from moving accidentally. Wheel-based restraints mount to the surface of the dock approach directly in front of the dock opening. It engages one of the trailer’s rear tires with a barrier that locks in place and prevents the vehicle from moving forward when parked at the dock. An automated restraint has a mount on the outside wall beneath the dock opening, and a hook automatically extends and wraps around the rear-impact guard on a trailer.
- Drive forklifts slowly on docks and dock plates
- Secure dock plates, and always verify a plate can fully support the weight of the load
- Stay clear of the edges, and never back forklifts up to the dock’s edge
- Provide visual warnings near the edges of the dock
- Prohibit employees from jumping on or off docks
- When possible, install dock stairs that lead from the inside of the warehouse to the outside, so that employees or drivers don’t have to use the dock door. Ensure dock stairs meet OSHA or ADA specifications
- If just employees will be using the steps, follow OSHA regulations. OSHA regulations are a little more flexible than ADA regulations. If truck drivers who are not employed by the company will be using the steps, they must meet ADA regulations. What’s the difference between OSHA and ADA?
View a full checklist for loading dock safety.