5 Keys to Loading Dock Safety

African American male loading dock supervisor waving

Loading docks provide your company’s connection to the outside world. Raw materials come in. Finished products go out. Maintaining a rapid and efficient pace is a crucial part of a healthy business.  

But keep that word “healthy” in mind. Loading docks don’t just exist as the crossroads of commerce. They also represent significant safety hazards. Maintaining a high level of loading dock safety is a key step in protecting everyone’s health and keeping your business humming.  

With all the activity that takes place on the loading dock, it’s no surprise that they become a hive of potential injury. One study showed that this part of the workplace accounted for 25% all industrial accidents. Meanwhile, a separate stat showed that more than 6,000 people are forced to miss work each year due to injuries sustained on loading docks, dock plates, and ramps.  

Clearly, loading docks represent a significant danger zone. However, you can minimize this risk, while still keeping up the pace necessary to drive profitability. Here are five keys to maintaining dock safety:  

Watch for Moving Machine 

Forklifts, trucks moving in and out, and even hand-operated pallet jacks can present a danger. More than 68,000 accidents happen each year as a result of powered industrial trucks. Moreover, these incidents lead to more than 100 fatalities.   

To avoid these injury risks, follow the proper training and certification guidelines. No one should operate a machine unless they have been certified for that particular piece of equipment. For other employees, awareness is key. The loading dock is in constant motion. Workers should stay aware and alert.  

Mind Drop Offs  

The loading dock comes with a built-in injury hazard: the dock itself. The edge of the loading/unloading area creates a natural falling danger. Even if the drop-off is relatively low, it can lead to a nasty injury in the wrong situation.  

Clearly label any drop offs. Keep doors closed when the dock isn’t in use. Have clear procedures for loading and unloading trucks, maximizing safety at all times. These small precautions can minimize the danger of painful injuries.  

Avoid Injuries Related to Lifting  

Machines aren’t the only thing moving things around on the loading dock. Lots of materials travel thanks to old-fashioned muscle power. This can lead to its own kind of danger. Watch out for back strain, repetitive stress, and injuries caused by improper lifting.  

According to government stats, more than 1 million workers suffer back injuries each year, or about 20% of all workplace incidents. There are steps you can take to avoid adding to these figures. Have clear procedures for lifting and moving items. In addition, encourage all workers to use the proper equipment or a team-lift effort.   

Maintain Safety Around Dangerous Chemicals or Gases  

There are invisible dangers on the loading docks. Running trucks and other machines emit noxious fumes, with carbon monoxide representing a particularly common hazard. Usually, these don’t pose a significant problem – the gas is dissipated quickly in the facility. But there are times when these fumes can build up and pose a health hazard.  

Make sure all ventilation and other safety systems are working and regularly tested. Install carbon monoxide detectors to monitor for dangerous levels. Simultaneously, clearly label all dangerous chemicals and take extra care loading and unloading hazardous substances.  

Keep Floors Clean and Dry  

Slips and falls can represent a major danger in any part of your facility. Statistics indicate that they account for 16% of workplace injury claims. A potential risk anywhere, these dangers are especially prevalent on the loading dock.  

To avoid them, keep walkways clear, eliminating tripping hazards. This can be difficult when managing the movement of inventory. However, staying organized even in hectic times can prevent dangerous situations.   

Meanwhile, clean up any spills as soon as they occur. Pay special attention to rainy days. People can track water in from the outside and leave slick spots on the floor.  

Build a Safer Workforce 

Maintaining the highest safety standards requires a tight partnership between employers and employees. A strong staffing firm, like LaborMAX, makes these connections possible.  

Contact LaborMAX Staffing today to learn more.