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Loading Dock Safety: 10 Vital Tips to Maximize Safety at the Loading Dock

Loading dock safety can’t be emphasized enough. Loading docks are fast-paced, dangerous environments, and without proper equipment and training, everyone’s safety can be jeopardized.

Trailers left unsecured during loading and unloading, for example, introduce a multitude of trailer separation accidents at the dock. Without proper communication between forklift and truck drivers, the risk of accidents increases, and the examples don’t end there.

Consider these OSHA Facts:

●       Semi/tractor trailers are the second leading cause of backover fatalitiesin the U.S.

●       There are nearly 85 fatalities involving forklifts every year.

While no two shipping and receiving operations are the same, safety must come first. Rite-Hite safety solutions can help you significantly reduce risk throughout your entire loading dock environment, and for that reason we’ve put together the following tips you can follow to create safer loading docks. After all, while cargo is important, your workers are your most important asset. If they’re not safe, then neither is your business.

Keep Your Workers Safe at the Loading Dock

1. Protect the 4' Dock Drop-Off

Forklift operators are vulnerable to a fall from an unprotected loading dock edge, even if an overhead door is closed. The manually operated Dok-Guardian Safety Barrier is designed to stop up to 30,000 lbs., and it can integrate with a Dok-Lok vehicle restraint, leveler or overhead door to help ensure full-time loading dock safety. 

2. Safely Secure Trailers with RIG Obstructions

Dok-Lok Vehicle Restraints

Trailers with Rear Impact Guard (RIG) obstructions are more prevalent today than ever. The Shadow Hook adds an additional layer of safety by helping to secure intermodal trailer chassis and trailers with rear impact guard obstructions while achieving the greatest reach and creating a two-point entrapment on traditional RIGs.

3. Limit Unnecessary Ground Traffic

Some safety protocols call for visual verification that the trailer is restrained before the next sequence in the operation can begin. Lok-Vu utilizes a single or dual outside camera view which is displayed inside; the single camera helps confirm a Lok is engaged while a dual camera configuration also confirms a trailer stand’s presence.

4. Communicate Beyond an Obstructed Control Box

Corner-Vu and Leveler-Vu

Control boxes, with flashing red and green lights, may become obstructed at a busy loading dock. Corner-Vu and Leveler-Vu place lights on the upper corners of the interior dock door and at the leveler pit rear to help provide a clear, line-of-sight vehicle restraint status with reduced obstructions in the forklift driver's view.

5. Protect Boots on the Ground

A tractor 70' away on a busy loading dock is nearly silent. Approach-Vu utilizes a light and horn system to present a clear visual and audible warning to pedestrians in the drive approach when a backing vehicle is detected..

6. Extend Your Blue Light Safety Policy

Blue lights on forklifts disappear into trailers at your loading dock. Pedestrian-Vu features motion sensors located on each side of the dock door which are aimed inside of the trailer and emit an intense, flashing blue light onto the leveler when activity is detected inside of the trailer warning everyone on the dock to proceed with caution.

7. Create Safer Paths for People and Forklifts

Safe-T-Signal Intersection Warning System

The Safe-T-Signal Intersection Warning System detects and communicates potential danger at intersections and blind corners at your loading dock and throughout your entire facility; improving everyone’s safety. The ceiling-mounted signal will detect oncoming traffic and communicate approaching traffic with high-intensity LED lights; including a blue light on the floor.

8. More Than Securing a Trailer

A vehicle restraint should do more than secure a trailer to the building. The Rite-Vu™ Hazard Recognition and Light Communication System detects and communicates potential dangers in the loading dock environment. A combination of components use activity sensors, line-of-sight notification, and audible alarms to provide instant hazard recognition and communication to pedestrians and material handling operators.

9. Ensure the Loading Dock is Free of Debris and Water

Dock Seals, like Rite-Hite’s Performer Dock Seal, form a gasket-type seal around three sides of the trailer at the loading dock. This implementation limits unwanted debris and water from entering loading dock areas where it could have created hazardous, slippery conditions.

10. Support Spotted Trailers

Trailer Stabilizer

Place trailer stabilizers or trailer stands under the nose of spotted trailers to help prevent trailer up-ending or other accidents due to landing gear collapse.

According to OSHA, 70% of all reported accidents could have been avoided with proper safety precautions. While not all encompassing, using these steps along with a well-executed, regulation-abiding safety plan you can help reduce the risk of accidents around the loading dock and keep your business running smoothly.

For more information:

●       Read more about loading dock safety. 

●       Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter. The INSITE Newsletter covers topics relating to safety, security and productivity at the loading dock and inside the industrial facility.

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