5 Tips to Avoid Most Common Safety Hazards at Loading Dock

By Wes Ledford of Miner
Originally published in Food Logistics

Most people working in supply chain notice certain issues but do not necessarily know the correct way to resolve them. Not addressing them can require even more in the end such as lawsuits, employee safety and valuable time. The priority is to keep your business up and running, and the best way to do that is with correct safety measures..

According to OSHA, 25% of all warehouse accidents occur at the loading dock, and for every injury, there are 600 near-misses. Loading docks are challenged with more safety hazards than nearly any other part of a facility. But despite this knowledge and the serious safety issues that loading docks present, businesses are still struggling to sufficiently address challenges.

Here are some of the most common mistakes and tips for how they can be avoided.

Neglecting restraints, or using them incorrectly.

Restraints grab the back end of a truck and hold it in the dock position, keeping the driver from accidentally driving away so there’s no chance of a forklift being left on the truck. More accidents happen in this situation than anywhere else, but danger is easily avoided by adding restraints and training employees on full, proper and consistent use.

Not using dock levelers.

The safety mechanisms involved with dock levelers were invented solely for this purpose, but many times are overlooked. In the cold storage industry, improper dock leveler use creates more opportunities for energy to leak out and pests to potentially get in. Remember that the dock leveler will not engage with a truck unless the restraint is locked into the truck. Creating a sequence of safety, related to the dock position and ensuring this process is followed consistently, can reduce the risk of injury and financial losses from lawsuits.

Too much pedestrian traffic.

In most facilities, when a trailer backs into a dock, someone has to go outside to open the trailer doors. This puts people in the way of truck and forklift traffic, and many drivers aren’t prepared to look out for people walking in the yard. Utilizing a vertical storing leveler mounted inside the building allows the truck to back in completely without someone opening the doors in an unsafe position. The fewer people around, the less likely you are to get hurt.

Aging equipment.

Rather than using all of your capital on the cheapest option, invest that money in hydraulic levelers, so there’s nothing to work around under the dock leveler. If you have to work around springs, hinges, airbags and other moving parts, you’re increasing the number of pinch points, likelihood of injuries and risk of fatalities to employees. Spending money on better quality equipment will benefit you more financially in the long run.

Not optimizing your use of space.

Most facilities have older technology on dock doors that haven’t been updated. To make these facilities safer, more efficient, last longer and more appealing to customers, consider the best use of your space. Moving to vertically positioned dock levelers will create a safe, efficient, cleaner environment.

Remember, there are many ways to adapt to these changes without having to immediately tap into capital. You might not have the resources to make all of these changes at once, but you also don’t have the capability to handle a costly lawsuit. Consider finding an experienced partner or vendor that can guide you through these steps as you implement them.


For more information on how Miner can increase your facility uptime, reduce total cost of ownership and ensure safety and sustainability for you and your employees, explore our MinerCARE® Safety & Service Programs or download our eBook, The Value of Proactive Maintenance.