Loading Dock Safety for Truck Drivers, Equipment Operators, and Dockworkers
What’s at Stake?
Loading docks are busy places where machine operators and truck drivers must deal with many hazards and distractions. These include workers on foot, poor lighting and visibility, slippery, cramped, and congested areas crowded with debris, riddled with blind spots and crisscrossed with ramps, stairways and uneven surfaces.
What’s the Danger?
Loading dock risks include:
Crushed by unstable loads that shift and fall, pinned by a load, struck-by a falling gate, dock or trailer door.
Slip, trip, and fall hazards and material handling work – causing injuries ranging from minor to disabling.
Driving a forklift over the edge of the dock. Two main causes:
Trailer creep – slight movement of a truck trailer away from the dock.
Premature departure – the driver leaves the dock too soon, possibly
because of wrong or misunderstood directions.
Crashing through the floor of a truck because of rotting floorboards or loads exceeding weight capacity.
Hitting workers on foot with a vehicle, equipment, or falling load.
How to Protect Yourself
4 Safety Tips for Truck Drivers
- Follow yard speed limits, traffic signals, and dock signals telling you when to back in or go forward – whether they originate from dockworkers or from automatic lights.
- Follow and use vehicle restraint procedures in force at the dock to prevent trailer creep.
- Stick to pedestrian lanes when you leave your truck and stay in the driver waiting area.
- Be alert and stay out of the way of moving equipment.
4 Tips for Equipment Operators
- Don’t use equipment unless you are trained and authorized
Material handling equipment includes, forklifts, conveyors, powered lifting devices, electric pallet trucks and hand carts.
Each device has unique hazards and requires special techniques to operate safely.
- Forklift operators must wear a seatbelt
Too many forklift drivers have been crushed to death when the forklift started to fall and they tried to jump free.
- Inspect equipment, loads, and trailers
Inspect equipment before use.
Visually inspect trailers for rotting floorboards before entering them.
Check loads are stable, secure and otherwise safe before moving them.
- Don’t take for granted that pedestrians see or hear you and will stop for you.
4 Safety Tips for Dockworkers
- Put on your PPE.
- Know proper trailer restraint.
- Use materials handling equipment to prevent back injuries only if you are trained to do so.
- Prevent slips, trips, and falls by maintaining good lighting and keeping surfaces free of grease, mud, snow or ice; always use the steps and handrail to exit the dock – never jump to the ground from a dock or trailer.
Loading dock safety involves everyone. Truck drivers, equipment operators, and dock workers each have an important part to play in preventing accidents!