Loading dock safety is no laughing matter. The combination of big trucks, heavy equipment, large, heavy and/or oversized loads and a whole lot of hustle and bustle make loading docks and delivery bays a potential hotbed of safety violations and serious injury.
Some of the most dangerous scenarios involve the intersection of semi-trailer trucks and wee humans – with or without their forklifts. While everyone is doing their best to work quickly, efficiently and safely – getting into a blind daily routine can be dangerous for all involved.
Loading Dock Etiquette Can Save Lives and Improve Business
Truck drivers who observe a little loading dock etiquette can go a long way towards maintaining overall safety and improving the business relationship between their company and the client.
Be Humble & Communicate. This is easier said than done, but the more humble you are – the less likely there are to be issues. If it’s your first time to make a pick-up or delivery, pay close attention to loading dock signage and lights. Then, recognize what you all have in common – a desire to get the job done, even if your methods vary.
While truckers make money according to the number of deliveries they make, shipping/receiving personnel typically make money by the amount of hours they work. Thus, while truckers have an incentive to work quickly, getting in and out of the loading bay as rapidly as possible – shipping/receiving clerks may work more slowly, in the hopes of extending their hours and getting overtime. Communicating this same-but-opposite motivation can help you strike the middle ground.
Avoid Getting Overly Angry. You are going to be angry, frustrated and discouraged – possibly on a daily basis – depending on the personality-types who greet you in the loading bay. This is a given, but it doesn’t mean that being reactive will help. Yelling, swearing or threatening physical harm will only escalate the situation. Instead, it’s best to develop the feathers of a duck, so others’ idiocy – – er, we mean – – unprofessionalism, can roll right off your back.
Get Pertinent Information Ahead of Time. Talk to the other drivers and/or managers at your freight company to find out as much as you can about various companies, facilities, and potential loading dock issues ahead of time. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to cultivate patience (or load a few more of your favorite Netflix…). If a company is known to drag its feet, or something about a particular loading dock hinders the process or negatively affects a driver’s experience, freight company personnel can pick up the phone and have a conversation with the shipping/receiving managers. Hopefully, a compromise of sorts can be made.
Honor the Loading Dock Rules. Some loading docks are much more detail-oriented than others. While one company may only employ the use of a basic red light/green light safety system, others may employ lights, signage, dock restraint systems, tire chocking – and the list goes on. The more labor intensive it is for you to do your job, the more frustrating it is. We get it. But, the reality is that these features were employed because someone, somewhere was gravely injured or possibly even killed. Remember the aforementioned rule to “Be Humble.” Railing against the establishment won’t do anything to make your job there any easier.
Stay Awake, Alert and Professionally Attentive. When truck drivers fall asleep, leave their truck or are generally MIA, it slows things down. Yes, there are long waits involved when you’re a delivery driver, but that’s just the name of the game. Pay attention, provide the required information/documentation, patiently wait your turn and follow the dock rules – and you’ll be a part of the solution, rather than the problem.
The goal is for everyone to get their job done as professionally, efficiently and safely as possible. Observing a little loading dock etiquette for truckers will help to make that happen.