Loading Dock Safety Equipment

Protect your most valuable asset, your workers. Contact NES to learn about our loading dock safety services.

By: Ben Cartwright
July 18, 2022

Loading Dock Safety Equipment: Better Safe Than Sorry

Loading docks are the essential middlemen for business operations everywhere. With high volumes of shipments requiring loading and unloading, the warehouse staff must move with the utmost efficiency and consistency to ensure that everything and everyone is on schedule. Amazon Logistics delivered over four billion packages in the United States in 2020, a 127 percent growth compared to the previous year. An unsafe loading dock can cause significant delays, broken machinery, and worse, cause a member of your staff injury or death. In 2017, there were 270,000 injuries reported in the transportation and warehousing industry and 819 deaths, a number only surpassed by the construction industry. In 2019 alone, there were a total of 5,333 workers died due to on-the-job injuries in 2019 – a 1.6% increase from the year before.

Loading docks are flooded with potential danger, and without the proper training, procedures,, and loading dock safety equipment, like loading dock safety barriers, rails, lights, etc., you increase the likelihood of hazards, injuries, and product loss. If there is one thing that always needs to be consistent, it is the need for safety.

What potential accidents can occur at a loading dock?

Loading docks may seem like a chaotic environment to the untrained eye, but look a little closer, and you’ll see that every truck loading and off-loading is well-orchestrated by the facility team. However, no matter how adept a loading dock team is at their profession, accidents occur. Common loading dock accidents include:

  • Slips: Falls and slips are the most common accidents at loading docks. This can involve slipping on oil spills and water from the forklift, leaking fluids from unloaded containers, or dust and debris from warehouse operations.
  • Falls: Loading dock workers who are focusing on their job can fall off the dock’s edge when the dock door is left open after loading or unloading a truck or there is no barricade installed.
  • Hazardous materials: Dockworkers can be exposed too many toxic chemicals or substances. Depending on what is being unloaded and loaded, chemicals can cause injuries or occupational illnesses if the exposure is severe or long-term. In addition, carbon monoxide from the truck’s exhaust can be hazardous if the dock is in an enclosed area.
  • Noise: Docks can be deafening workplaces, and if the noise is excessive for a sustained period, loading dock workers risk permanent hearing loss.
  • Crushing loads: Improperly secured loads can easily shift in transit—even during a short trip. If tie downs or pallets break, or the load becomes unstable, materials can fall on unsuspecting dock workers or the truck driver when the truck’s trailer door is open and potentially crush them under a heavy load.
  • Overexertion: Workers in loading docks must lift heavy goods, materials, and boxes. In a rush to get the truck loaded or unloaded, they may overexert themselves, with back, shoulder, knee, and spinal injuries being the possible result.
  • Vehicle impacts:  When a truck or forklift backs up, the driver may not see nearby workers in the loading dock. Workers can be crushed between the large trucks and forklifts and the wall or dock’s edge, causing the person to suffer catastrophic injuries or death. 

With so much potential for accidents to occur, you may be wondering how you can keep loading dock workers safe. Following OSHA guidelines and being proactive about installing loading dock safety equipment can help mitigate injuries and unplanned delays.

What does OSHA say about loading dock safety?

Being compliant with OSHA’s safety standards is good for your business and your workers’ safety and will prevent you from incurring heavy fines. For instance, OSHA regulations on loading dock safety require fall protection on any dock that is 48 inches or higher. If the dock door is open, appropriate dock worker protection is required. OSHA is clear that at this height and up, a visual barrier, like a yellow rope, cones, or a chain, isn’t going to do it. OSHA requires installing and using a permanent barrier such as loading dock safety rails to maintain worker safety. OSHA has a long list of safety regulations that all loading docks must adhere to, but OSHA’s pocket guide is a good place to start to see if your business is on the up and up. 

How can National Equipment & Safety help?

Worker safety is important to us—so important that we made sure it was part of our company’s name. We frequently handle large projects like large-scale, multi-site loading dock and commercial door safety installations as well as smaller installations like loading dock safety rails and lights. 

We take pride in knowing that your work helps save lives and keeps your business running. We also understand that OSHA changes loading dock safety regulations often and what is within code today may be out of code tomorrow. You can schedule for us to do a walk-through and help you determine which parts of your loading dock and warehouse that need additional safety installations to bring them up to code. Loading dock safety isn’t something you can ignore. To schedule an appointment, contact National Equipment & Safety today.

Constructor X

Eu tincidunt tortor aliquam nulla facilisi. Aenean sed adipiscing diam donec adipiscing. Ut lectus arcu bibendum at varius vel pharetra.