Know Your Risks at the Loading Dock: Whole Body Vibration

The loading dock is a fast paced environment with many highly repetitive processes. Depending on the facility, a forklift operator may travel from the facility floor, across a dock leveler, and into the bed of a trailer hundreds of times each week. This repeatedly transmits vibrations from the floor of the vehicle, through the seat suspension, and into the skeletal system of the forklift operator. This phenomenon is known as Dock Shock or Whole Body Vibration (WBV).

How does WBV put your employees and company at risk?

1. Worker Injury: According to NIOSH, an estimated 6 million American workers are regularly exposed to whole-body vibration – exceeding more than two hours a day. This has been linked to adverse health effects, including lower back pain – the most common ailment associated with WBV, musculoskeletal, and digestive problems. (1)Lower back pain is one of the most common neurological ailments in the U.S. – second only to headaches. (2)It is also the largest cause of job related disability, making up nearly 20 percent of all workplace injuries and illnesses. (3)The health risks associated with WBV are so serious that Europe has instituted a health standard to limit workers exposure to WBV. What’s more alarming is the impact that whole-body vibration has on an aging workforce.  Learn more about that by reading this Whole-Body Vibration White Paper.
2. Decreased Productivity: As medical conditions develop and worsen from exposure to WBV, absenteeism increases and productivity suffers among injured employees. In fact, $2.8 billion is lost to absenteeism each year in the manufacturing and production world alone.3 These trends take a toll on the moral of remaining workers who may be required to carry an increased workload for an injured party. In an effort to offset these challenges, additional time and money must be spent to hire and train replacement workers.
3. Product & Equipment Damage: Just as the human body can become damaged from the powerful effects of whole-body vibration so can the products being transferred and the equipment doing the transporting. Here, the impact is far reaching amongst organizational teams. When product is damaged, sales are lost and relationships are tested. When equipment is damaged, time and money must be spent on repairs.

Each year, billions of dollars collectively are lost to the effects of whole-body vibration, from medical and equipment costs, to damaged product and productivity. With such high costs involved, measures should be taken to limit exposure to WBV whenever possible.  This can protect your workers and your bottom line.

How can you minimize WBV at your loading dock? Let Rite-Hite smooth things out. As the innovator of loading dock solutions we offer a full line of hydraulic, air, and mechanical dock levelers. Each comes equipped with three exclusive design features that significantly reduce the occurrence of WBV:

  • Constant Radius Rear Hinge and rear angle cut-outs create a smooth transition between the leveler and facility floor when servicing at, above, or below dock level.
  • Two Point Crown Control on the front lip hinge distributes the load evenly, smoothing out the transition between the leveler and the trailer bed, and extending the hinge life.
  • Optimized Lip Chamfer improves smoothness from the trailer bed onto the leveler by approximately 20 percent.
Take the next step toward a safer, more productive loading dock…

(1) “Whole-body Vibration” Safety & Health Magazine, Web, 2009.

(2) “Low Back Pain Fact Sheet” NIH, Web, 2014.

(3) “The Causes And Costs Of Absenteeism In The Workplace" FORBES, Web, 2014.

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