17th September, 2020

Tips To Make Loading Docks Safer

To transport goods and supplies in warehouse and industrial settings, it is necessary to move them into and out of semi-trailer trucks via loading docks. Since you must work with materials that are weighty and also exist together in large quantities, it is imperative that you carry out any procedures related to them with the utmost caution. Otherwise, workers can get seriously injured while interacting with them.

Loading docks are the areas where trailers come to rest and connect to your building, so they should receive a large amount of your attention as you think about the safety of your business’s transport operations. These docks are raised above the ground outside in order to line up with trailers, presenting a falling hazard. In addition to dealing with the goods themselves, employees must also control and maneuver heavy equipment around loading docks, which presents an additional danger. Heed these tips to make loading docks safer at your facility.

Keep the Loading Dock Clean

One of the simplest, yet often the most overlooked measures you can enforce to improve safety at your loading docks is frequent cleaning. A floor that is covered in liquid of any kind or that has debris scattered on it can lead to slipping and tripping. This can already cause harm to a person normally, but add large goods and machinery to the equation, and you can see how a worker can sustain critical injuries. Stay vigilant with the state of the loading dock floor so that you can ensure that everyone who walks on it experiences stable footing. If your employees can trust that you immediately clear the space when a spill or accident occurs, they won’t need to expend energy and time avoiding dangerous spots on the ground. In turn, they can focus entirely on avoiding collisions with other people.

Set Up Visible Signs

Signage communicates specific details about where your workers should walk or drive equipment, as well as where they should exercise extra caution. Although you can and should educate every new member of your staff on standard processes and expectations, visual aids in the form of signs can serve as helpful reminders to them. Visual markers may also get ideas across more clearly than spoken or written words for some people. Put up signs that are colorful, sizeable, and located in places that overlap with the direct sightline of workers as they carry out their duties. Examples could include signs that indicate sections of the loading dock that people on foot should steer clear of, or the clearance of certain overhanging structures that machines might bump into.

Guard High-Traffic Areas

Place physical guards on sharp edges and corners in high-traffic loading dock areas to minimize injuries should members of your workforce accidentally bump into them. Guards should be softer than those spots that they cover up so they can absorb impact without putting out stiff resistance. Encasing corners and columns around the loading dock can also protect them from developing cracks, chips, and breaks when forklifts and truck trailers graze against them. When you use them for this purpose, the guards can be hard and thin, since they probably do not stand in zones where employees will move or stand most of the time.

Take Action To Prevent Falls

Despite training and experience, it is still possible that your workers may fall from the loading dock opening when they are momentarily distracted, or when an object obstructs their visibility. You should install structures on the dock to avert these mishaps. One method for doing so is to put up retractable loading dock barriers in front of them. With a bright yellow or orange coloration, they stand out from their surroundings, so employees know when they are approaching the dock opening. These barriers are also made of mesh or looser netting that you can easily move in and out of place as needed. Light and air can pass through them, so the area remains fully visible, but the materials are strong enough to stop even heavy equipment without falling apart.

Besides retractable barriers, you can also add safety features to loading dock levelers. Levelers usually only create a ramp between trailers and the floor of your building. You can attach special lips to your levelers to halt forklifts that would otherwise drive right over the edge of the loading dock opening. In their flat, inactivated position, the levelers will have a short but sturdy metal wall that stands vertically at the opening.

Secure Materials With Pallets and Dunnage

Implementing more efficient material organization by securing materials with pallets and dunnage is also a tip to make loading docks safer. As your personnel handles the goods arriving in or leaving through trailers, the threat of those goods toppling over or becoming damaged is ever-present. Materials can sit on top of pallets in a structured manner so that they are easy to move with forklifts and your workers are less likely to get hurt from uneven stacks that could fall on them. Dunnage holds materials in place within the trailers, simultaneously protecting them from bumps on the road and preventing collapses while workers transfer them between warehouses or factories and trucks.

Pallets and dunnage must be sturdy in order to successfully support the weight of hefty items without breaking down. You may commonly see them made of wood or steel. The issue with this is that wood begins to fall apart in the presence of moisture and may not always be stout enough to handle your goods. Steel is undeniably durable, but it is also quite heavy. For your pallets and dunnage, you should thus utilize plastic wood. Plastic wood is robust, and you can find variants with fiberglass in them for more resilience. Because it is inorganic, it does not decay from water or insects like wood. It’s also lighter than steel.

You can acquire plastic wood for improving your loading docks’ safety by calling Tangent Materials. We stand at the forefront of recycled HDPE suppliers and our structural plastic lumber materials are suited for a variety of industrial applications.