A dock loading area can be one of the most hazardous places in a warehouse and dock safety is surely an important area of concern in facility management.
It is vital to identify and remove possible hazards to avoid accidents and damage on employees and the facility.
Once hazards are identified, other controls may be considered.
1. Loading Dock Design and accessories
Special attention must be given to the loading dock area design. Several factors must be considered when coordinating dock heights and door sizes and when selecting loading dock equipment.
The loading dock area must be designed to allow safe entry and exit of vehicles. Safe routes around loading dock areas for pedestrian traffic must be clearly marked.
If a dock leveller is in use, ensure that it is appropriate for the volume and weight of materials being handled. Reduce uneven surfaces between the loading area, dock plate and the trailer, to reduce slips and falls. Adequate lighting in the loading dock area and in trailers should be provided to prevent slips, trips and falls, and collisions.
In addition, removable safety barriers like Dok-guardians can be installed to prevent forklifts, pallet jacks and pedestrians from falling off the docks. Trailer stands can also be used to provide back-up for a trailer’s landing gear to prevent the trailer from tipping when a forklift is loading at the front.
2. Training loading dock personnel
All workers should be educated on the need to use marked areas when walking through the loading dock area and that traffic (including fork-lifts) should not enter these areas. The loading dock personnel should also be trained on how to use the equipment.
It is the employer's responsibility to ensure proper training is provided for the loading dock workers.
3. Positioning and Securing Vehicles
Equipment, such as dock and truck levellers and dock safety equipment as well as safety restraints for vehicles like wheel chocks or wheel stoppers; manual and global wheel locks which engages the rear tire of the truck or trailer with a barrier to keep it in place.
4. Loading and Unloading of Materials and Goods
Traffic management plans must be implemented to reduce congestion in the dock area.
Ensure dock plates have appropriate capacity, stability and proper placement. Provide physical barriers at dock edges and on lifting devices to prevent falls. Reduce vehicle exhaust by limiting idling times and turning of vehicle engines when loading or unloading the truck.
A Dock system control box such as Dok-commander can be added to improve dock safety in an easy to use dock system.
5. Adequate Preventive Maintenance
A regular preventive maintenance program for loading dock equipment including dock levellers, restraints, doors, dock bumpers, lights, and communication systems must be established.
Ensure that good housekeeping practices are in place. Clean up spills and leaks immediately and remove and dispose of any packaging materials (cardboard, pallets, plastic, etc.). Regularly check dock seals and shelters to ensure they are not leaking, to minimise worker exposure to vehicle exhaust and temperature extremes, as well as minimise deterioration of the building envelope due to weather.
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