Keys to Loading Dock Safety


Every job has its own unique risks and hazards. Knowing what to prepare for and how to avoid those risks where possible is an important part of leading from a safety mindset. Safety is everyone’s responsibility at the end of the day. But if you’re not careful, you can really give yourself an injury on the job. Loading docks are especially important to know what you are risking by not thinking safety first. The repetitive motion of lifting and unloading both containers and trucks can be a common source of avoidable injury. Then there’s truck visibility, falls, and other common OSHA safety concerns. Loading docks are worth a second look to make sure that the safety culture you want to exhibit is keeping everyone safe and sound.

For those of you interested in temp services in Murfreesboro, here are four key elements to loading dock safety that can help you prevent injury and handle materials safely.

1. Wear Proper Attire

Warehouse employees should wear the right clothing to ensure they are staying safe on the job when they’re working in the back or on the dock. While engineering and administrative controls are always the first line of defense against injuries in the workplace, personal protective equipment (PPE) plays a critical role for operators. That might include eye protection, head protection or hard hats, hand protection or safety gloves, earplugs, and proper footwear. Make sure you have what you need to get the job done right.

2. Secure Your Loads

When loading and unloading trucks, there is a substantive risk of items falling. Before moving anything, make sure that loads are secure. Injuries from falling items can be very dangerous and should be taken very seriously. Before operating your lift, make sure that the load is secure.

3. Inspect Equipment Daily

Forklifts should be thoroughly inspected before every use. Daily checks with the shift supervisor are recommended to identify and log any problems or defects. Any equipment that requires repair should never be operated. Some of the recommended checks include:

  • Test operating controls such as brakes, lights, horn, and steering wheel.
  • Check mast and overhead guard for damage.
  • Examine tire and fluid levels (hydraulic, brake, engine, fuel, and coolant).
  • Check for water, oil, or radiator leaks.
  • Ensure the forks are in good condition (e.g. straight, no cracks, no distortion).
  • Look for potential hazards.

4. Maintain 360° Visibility

Keep equipment and materials organized and out of the way to ensure visibility, for both truck drivers and loaders or unloaders trying to do their job. If the load restricts your visibility, operate the equipment in reverse. Always ensure you have a good view of the rack when you are positioning the load. Additional best practices defined by OSHA are:

  • Always make eye contact with pedestrians and other workers.
  • Always look in the direction of travel.
  • Use rear-view mirrors to boost visibility.
  • Use headlights if working at night, outdoors, or in areas where additional lighting is needed.

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