With the holiday season and a brand new year of business just around the corner, your loading docks are sure to be crowded! For lift truck operators, we tend to focus on safety topics such as floor surfaces, pedestrian and vehicle traffic, warehouse debris and obstacles and confined space. We often forget one of the most prevalent and potentially dangerous areas, loading dock safety. There are many other components involved in loading dock safety that the forklift driver has no control over while driving, but all can be addressed if the proper measures are taken regarding the preparation of the load transfer. Some form of wheel retention is required by OSHA such as Manual Surface Chock Wheel Restraints, Surface-Mounted Restraints, In-Ground Restraints, etc.
Even if you’ve never spent time working on a loading dock, you’ve seen wheel chocks at some point or another. These are one of the easiest ways to prevent trailer creep that can be caused by repeated entry and exit of a forklift into the trailer. If wheel chocks are not in place, the trailer will become separated from the dock leveler, increasing the likelihood of load or forklift tip-over. Placing wheel chocks in position presents another safety issue; all users/operators should be informed of the proper safety procedures. Ensure that nothing is being transferred into/out of the truck at the time of placement. Make sure chocks and spares are readily available and that mirrors have been placed in the appropriate positions in your dock so that drivers have visibility of the rear of their truck at all times.
The separation of the trailer from the dock leveler will be affected by the size of the load, size of the forklift, and the quality of the leveler/dock boards being used. Herein lies another method of accident prevention; make sure that the dock leveler and boards have been properly serviced and maintained and that you are using the proper truck and not exceeding the recommended truck and load weight.
There are also additional pieces of equipment that can be put in place to promote safe procedures. Barriers have been developed to place on your dock leveler or to install directly into the leveler to protect against backing off of or driving off the end of the dock. This doesn’t sound likely, but the reality is many drivers do not realize just how close they are to the edge. All it takes is a portion of one wheel to cross the dock for the entire machine to become off balance.
Make sure all operator manuals are stored in a close proximity to all dock levelers. There are several procedures that differ depending on the type of leveler installed. The drivers will need direct access to these manuals to ensure they are following the suggested safety procedures such as whether or not trailers should be engaged or disengaged while the trailers are departing.
Atlantic Lift Systems’ Territory Managers and Service Technicians will be happy to provide inspections/evaluations on your current dock levelers/boards. We want you and your team to have an optimal environment for safe, quick and efficient loading at all times. Please call us at (757) 466-9280 or visit us at www.AtlanticLiftSystems.com with questions or to inquire about scheduling an inspection or maintenance appointment. Safe loading!