Loading docks are a hazardous part of the workplace and are a common area for worker injuries. Your loading dock is central to your business and the hub of a lot of daily activity, from employees loading and unloading company trucks to vendors dropping off supplies.
Specific hazards vary from workplace to workplace. Other issues that might need consideration are space, storage of materials, ergonomic issues (risks for musculoskeletal injuries), tools, temperature, shift work, and so on.
Hazards for loading docks include making heavy or repeated lifts, working with dock, levelers and dock plates, as well as working near trailers that may tip over or separate from the dock. Other possible hazards include: strapping, poor maintenance of rubber wheels, improper shrink wrapping and assembly of loads, congested docks, poor weather conditions, chemical exposure or leaking chemicals
- Keep dock approaches free from potholes and deteriorating pavement.
- Keep dock bumpers in good condition.
- Maintain trailer-restraint systems to manufacturer specifications, and ensure that accompanying lighting functions properly.
- Use trailer-wheel chocks to block trailers and prevent movement during loading and unloading operations. Provide two trailer-wheel chocks for each trailer, and chain the chocks to the building.
- Use warning signs or warning lights to indicate moving vehicles.
- Warn dockworkers to never walk or stand behind a backing trailer.
- Keep dock levelers and dock plates in good working condition. Make sure their capacity is adequate based on typical load weights, lift truck speeds, ramp inclines, and use frequency.
- Require visitors to wear high-visibility clothing (such as vests) and appropriate personal protective equipment (such as eye protection).
- Prohibit the use of headphones, cellphones, radios, and other devices that cause distraction and impair the ability to hear warnings and alarms.
- Permit only authorized personnel or visitors to enter the building.
- Train, evaluate, and certify all drivers in the safe operation of industrial trucks.
- Inspect each truck before use for conditions that would make it unsafe to operate.
- See that operators follow safe procedures for picking up, putting down, and stacking loads.
- Confirm that operators drive safely. For example, they should always obey speed limits, look both ways prior to backing up, and drive slowly in congested areas or those with slippery surfaces.
- Provide truck drivers with a place away from the loading dock to wait while their trailers are being loaded or unloaded.
- Make sure truck engines are turned off during loading and unloading operations.
- Verify that a lockbox or key control system is always used to prevent unauthorized use of vehicles.
- Provide adequate trailer lighting for the tasks being performed.
- Require employees to inspect trailer floors for damage or debris before entering with lift trucks.
- Periodically check carbon monoxide levels to evaluate dockworker exposure.