Drive Approach Safety: Reduce Processes and Help Prevent Accidents
With increasing demand in the supply chain and trending changes in types of vehicles serviced at the loading dock, the drive approach is as busy and evolving as ever. However, one thing that remains is the risk of accidents where pedestrians and vehicles share the same space outside of the loading dock. In fact, OSHA reports that semi-tractor trailers are the second leading cause of back over fatalities in the United States. With the tractor 70’ away, engine noise can be obscured by ambient noise often experienced out on the drive approach, making a backing trailer deceptively quiet. And the risk is recognized internationally. For example, in France a bumper “refuge zone” of 20” is recommended for all loading docks while in New Zealand all semis are recommended to be equipped with backing alarms.
Although some facilities may enforce a “boots off the ground” policy to try and mitigate back over accidents, there are still many processes which place pedestrians at risk of being struck outside on the dangerous drive approach, such as:
- Accessing trailer door to break security seal (if present).
- Opening doors so trailer can be loaded or unloaded.
- Chocking tires, in the absence of a vehicle restraint or in the presence of trailer and vehicle restraint incompatibility such as a liftgate, parcel van or broken or missing RIG.
- Lowering landing gear, if dropped trailers.
- Placing trailer stand, if dropped trailers to help maintain trailer support in addition to the often neglected landing gear.
- Routine and unplanned maintenance as dock workers need to safely access the exterior vehicle restraint, underside of loading dock leveler, wheel guides and more.
- Drive approach maintenance such as snow removal and clearing debris.
Thankfully, Rite-Hite offers a variety of solutions to reduce processes outside on the drive approach, helping to mitigate the risk of back over fatalities and other loading dock accidents.
Pedestrian Drive Approach Safety
The first step in reducing the risk of back over accidents is notifying those on the drive approach of the backing threat. Like recommended backing alarms in New Zealand, facilities can employ audible and visual alarms around the loading dock.
Approach-Vu™ utilizes a light and horn system to proactively present a clear visual and audible proximity warning to pedestrians in the drive approach when a backing vehicle is detected. The advanced notification indicates the immediate need to safely vacate that exterior dock position due to an eminent, looming threat.
Approach-Vu™ should always be considered when manually restraining a vehicle, whether it is with simple wheel chocks or paired with the more advanced GWC-1000 Global Wheel Chock or MWL-1300 Manual Wheel-Lok™. In the case of new or existing Dok-Lok vehicle restraints, the alarm system can be integrated into the housing of the SHR-5000 Shadow Hook™ Restraint, STR-4200 Stabilizing Trailer Restraint or VBR-300 Vertical Barrier Restraint. Regardless of loading dock equipment and application, the entire Approach-Vu™ system is available as standalone to help prevent back over fatalities at every dock.
Real-Time Lock Verification System
Although some processes out on the drive approach are essential to facility safety and operation, some can be made safer by moving them from outside on the drive approach to inside at the loading dock.
Lok-Vu™ is a trailer presence and lock verification system that uses an outside camera and inside monitor to confirm when a trailer is present and properly secured as well as verify trailer stand presence. Eliminating the need for workers to step outside on the dangerous drive approach, the system also helps facilities maintain supply chain integrity.
Available in single or dual camera configurations, the dual camera option allows for interchangeable views between two of three general locations: the RIG of the trailer, rear-wheelbase of the trailer, and in the case of spotted trailers, the nose of the trailer to help verify trailer stand presence. The interior monitor is offered as standalone or embedded in a Dok-Commander® combined control panel. The Dok-Commander® integrates multiple pieces of loading dock equipment, such as vehicle restraints and loading dock levelers to dock doors and other Rite-Vu™ Hazard Recognition and Control components, and is programmable to provide safe, custom sequential operation.
Another solution to eliminate exterior steps of the loading process while maintaining supply chain integrity is to configure your loading dock for a Drive-Thru Application. The comprehensive loading dock system, anchored by the specially designed vertical storing levelers, allows drivers to completely back into position for a complete perimeter seal. Then, dock personnel can break the security seal and open trailer doors on the inside the facility versus outside on the drive approach where there’s not only a risk of exposure of the cargo to the outside elements – but risk to those on the drive approach.
Drive Approach Policy for Every Dock
It is no secret that there is a lot of traffic at the loading dock, and there’s no doubt that the drive approach is a dangerous place for pedestrians to be. With the need to open trailer doors, chock tires, lower landing gear, place trailer stands and maintain dock equipment, sometimes people find themselves without a choice to put themselves in a dangerous position.
With Rite-Hite, you have a variety of choice solutions that fit every budget and dock configuration. Regardless of loading dock application, facilities can introduce hazard recognition and control to their own drive approach policy, which offers an immediate positive impact. From Lok-Vu™ reducing the number of processes outside on the drive approach, to Approach-Vu™ helping mitigate the risk of back over facilities and other loading dock accidents, these innovative, effective solutions help combat back-over hazards where it is needed most.