Frequently Asked Questions

What is a vehicle restraint?

A Rite-Hite representative can walk you through the entire process to help you select the best vehicle restraint for your application.
Please Contact Us with your request.

Definition: Vehicle restraints, or trailer restraints, are devices that latch onto trailers to keep them from separating from the dock during loading/unloading.

They were first introduced by Rite-Hite in 1980 as a better solution than wheel chocks, which were known to be ineffective. Restraints have been recognized by OSHA since 1981 as an acceptable alternative to wheel chocks.

Types of Trailer Separation: There are four typical causes of trailer separation that can lead to serious accidents if the forklift and driver fall into the gap created between the trailer and the dock:

Trailer Creep - Also known as Dock Walk. The trailer gradually moves away from the dock due to the ongoing impact and momentum of the forklift traveling in and out of the trailer. Eventually the leveler lip loses contact with the bed of the trailer and a dangerous gap results between the trailer and dock. Air-ride trailers compound the problem.

Early Departure - The truck driver mistakenly pulls away from the dock before loading operations are complete. Due primarily to lack of communication between truck driver and dock workers.

Landing Gear Failure - Weak or corroded landing gear give way under the impact of loading and the spotted trailer collapses to the ground.

Trailer Upending - A form of trailer tipover, usually on pup trailers, where the first heavy load placed in the nose of the trailer causes the rear of the trailer to rise.

Collision with adjacent trucks - Another form of tipover whereby a truck departing from one dock position collides with a spotted trailer in the adjacent position, causing it to tip.

Accident Facts: Accidents associated with trailer separation at the dock are documented regularly. These accidents are typically very serious and often fatal. They are also extremely costly, due to direct costs of medical care and product and equipment damage, as well as the indirect costs of lost time and increased insurance premiums.

What are the questions to ask when choosing a restraint?

A Rite-Hite representative can walk you through the entire process to help you select the best vehicle restraint for your application.
Please Contact Us with your request.

Without the right restraint, you could face steep consequences.
The trailer restraint was engaged on the truck’s rear impact guard. The forklift driver felt safe. He wasn’t. As he entered with a load, the trailer bounced on its air suspension. The rear impact guard “hopped” over the restraint barrier, the trailer edged forward, and the forklift tumbled into the gap between dock and trailer.

The young man’s company had seen the futility of wheel chocks and had invested in trailer restraints. But why did this restraint fail to prevent a tragic accident?
Because its design did not account for the specific challenges of this company’s loading operations. The lesson is simple: Not all restraints are the same. The wrong one can put you at risk. If you’ve given up on wheel chocks - you should! - then you need to evaluate restraints with care. You need to ask questions.

How often do you service Air-Ride trailers?
At least a third of all trucks have Air-Ride suspensions, in which an air-inflated bladder supports the trailer. As forklifts come and go, the trailer bed height can fluctuate by several inches. Your restraint must always keep its grip. A restraint that exerts substantial, consistent pressure against the lower surface of the rear impact guard has the best chance of maintaining safe engagement during rapid bed height movement.

What about “aggressive pullout”?
Suppose a trucker really tries to break away. What kind of restraint is most likely to hold? Many factors come into play: the type of restraining barrier, the shape of the rear impact guard, the slope of the dock approach, the strength and durability of the restraint itself. Some restraints hold a lot better than others. In some circumstances, some may not hold at all.

Do you load liftgate trailers?
Conventional restraints aren’t designed to hold trucks with hydraulic liftgates, or those with very low frames. If you service such trucks, restraints are available that engage the rear wheels instead of the rear impact guard.

Do you service detached trailers?
All restraints can help keep trailers from moving straight out. But trailers spotted on landing gear pose special concerns. Suppose the landing gear collapses. The trailer’s front end drops, the back end lifts up, and the rear impact guard can float right over the restraint barrier. If you want to service spotted trailers safely, you need a restraint that protects in three dimensions - outward, upward, side-ways. Only a restraint with a rotating hook can trap the rear impact guard against all these movements.

There’s still more to think about.
Will the restraint you’re considering let you safely handle below-dock end loads? Will it provide clear communication between truckers and dock attendants? Can its manufacturer show you a long list of repeat users who attest to its performance and long-term durability?

Dock Accidents Are Expensive. People Are Priceless.
Sure, it’s complicated. But remember, every time a forklift enters a truck, your employee’s life is on the line. And so is your business. Don’t leave gaps in your dock safety system. Ask questions, and invest in restraints that guard against all the hazards you might face. Because “safer than wheel chocks” is not safe enough. Talk to an expert.

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