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Loading Dock Safety: How Dock Restraints Can Save Lives

February 10, 2014  |  Comments

The loading dock of a warehouse, materials handling company or other business is very well the most dangerous area of any operation. There are a large number of safety hazards combined with a high volume of activity that can lead to frequent accidents and severe injury of employees. Preventing loading dock accidents can be prevented however, with proper training and procedures, and safety equipment such as dock restraints, wheel chocks, dock boards, and dock levelers. Read on to learn how loading dock safety equipment can save lives.

Wheel Chocks

One of the most common causes of loading dock accidents is dock walk (also known as trailer creep or trailer walk). This occurs when the force of employees entering and exiting the trailer with lift trucks causes the trailer to slowly move away from the dock, resulting in separation from the dock leveler. Separation from the dock can also occur when a driver pulls away thinking the loading or unloading is done, but there is still a forklift operator in the truck.

It is an OSHA requirement that trucks have their wheels chocked at all times while loading and unloading. Wheel chocks are wedge-shaped blocks placed in front of the rear wheels of a trailer to prevent the trailer from moving away from the dock while the trailer is being loaded. By design, the weight of the truck makes the wheel chock grab the ground harder when motion is attempted.

One issue with wheel chocks is that people are required to deploy them, and some either don't mind taking needless risk, or are ignorant of the risks involved in loading or unloading an unsecured truck. These people may want to consider automatic trailer locks which cause a clamp to be deployed when a truck backs up to the lock, thereby grabbing the truck's ICC and securing it with no human intervention.

Dock Boards / Dock Plates

Dock boards and dock plates are also very important to the overall safety of your loading dock. This loading dock equipment bridges the gap between the end of the loading dock and the truck that you are loading or unloading. A dock plate is used only for hand operated application with a hand truck or pallet truck. A dock board is used for all power equipment. The biggest physical difference between the two is that dock plates do not include the curb that prevents a forklift from veering off of the dock board. This is because with hand operation a person has control over his load and does not have as much risk of falling off the equipment.

Dock Levelers

Automatic dock levelers allow your loading dock to be mechanically lined up with trucks without the time and effort it takes to deploy a manual truck dock board or dock plate. Automatic dock levelers can save about 5 minutes over a mechanical dock leveler and 20 minutes over a dock board.

Additional Equipment

Other important dock equipment includes expanding benches, stand-alone barriers and barriers built into dock levelers to prevent driving off the edge of the dock when the dock is empty, strip doors for protecting the inside of the loading dock or truck from external factors, fixed and variable height ramps to raise trailers to a level closer to that of the dock, and a variety of dock doors and dock seals. 

Don't let an "it can't happen to me" attitude or budget restrictions affect the safety of your loading dock. A few hundred dollars well-spent on loading dock safety equipment could very well save a life.

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A Plus Warehouse is an online business-to-business distributor of quality industrial equipment including many locker selections, plastic lockers, plastic bins, work benches, mobile carts, industrial cabinets, storage cabinets, matting, warehouse racks, conveyors, steel shelving, and dock equipment.

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