The loading dock is a busy hub, which is why it can also be one of the most dangerous places to work. From inattentive truck drivers, to poorly lit or slippery areas, there is plenty of opportunity for accidents and injuries – and who wants that?
Your goal as a business or warehouse owner or manager is to keep your employees safe and free from harm. This requires continued education on your part, as well as the sharing of that information with your employees and anyone who spends time in the loading dock and bay.
Accidents are bound to happen, the more you maintain a proactive stance, the less often they will occur – and the less severe the accidents or personal injuries will be.
Here are 4 of the most common loading dock hazards as well as tips on how to prevent them:
- Failure to Use Required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE was invented for a reason, it provides extra protection to vulnerable body parts. There is nothing more frustrating than losing a valuable employee – for a day or a few weeks – for the simple reason that he or she wasn’t wearing the required PPE for their job. Typical PPE for warehouse and loading dock employees include things like:
–Support belts and braces when necessary
Even something as simple as wearing a seatbelt when driving the forklift can make the difference between a minor and major accident-related injury. Institute a mandatory policy when it comes to employees and PPE. There should be a zero-tolerance plan in place for employees who fail to wear and implement PPE as advised.
- The Docks. The docks are a dangerous place for several reasons. Some of the most typical OSHA citations are handed out for unsafe dock conditions. Some of the most common hazards are associated with forklifts running over the dock edges, unsecured dock plates, employees jumping off the docks, or when products or equipment strike employees while they are on the dock. Make sure dock signage and barriers are clearly visible and keep your loading dock equipment in good working order, observing the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.
- Improper Lifting & Loading Techniques. Sometimes, it’s the little things that go wrong. In the case of warehouse and dock workers, day after day of lifting and moving heavy boxes can take a permanent toll on the body. If your workers aren’t trained in regards to safe lifting practices, they can wind up with lower back and/or joint injuries that lead to costly missed workdays, workers compensation claims and even disability – not to mention chronic pain issues. Provide general ergonomics training and specific task training to mitigate these risks. Training is not a one-and-done activity, but should be an ongoing focus of safety meetings and worker training refreshers. Also, encourage teamwork so employees never feel uncomfortable asking for assistance when they need it.
- Slips, Trips & Falls. The minute your dock or warehouse floors get wet, they get slippery. Slippery floors can lead to serious slip and fall accidents. Similarly, poor housekeeping can lead to debris on the floor, which poses both tripping hazards as well as forklift hazards. Train employees to clean up messes immediately and make a tidy warehouse and loading dock the norm. Perform routine sweeps of the areas and remove potential hazards. If and when spills occur, clean them up immediately and post adequate signage until the surface is completely dry.
A safe loading dock is a happier loading dock. Is your loading dock equipment in need of repair? Contact R&S and we’ll be happy to schedule an inspection and consultation to get your doors, lifts and other equipment in proper working order.