Loading Dock Safety
Written by Steve Hudgik
Loading Dock Safety Hazards
Most loading dock accidents are related to powered industrial trucks (fork lifts). For example, OSHA reports that many loading dock injuries and fatalities occur when a worker is crushed by a forklift that has overturned or has fallen from a loading dock. This means that loading dock safety needs to primarily address powered industrial truck safety. But, there is more to loading dock safety.
Loading dock safety needs to include training loading dock workers in the safe procedures that are appropriate for the material they handle. Various materials require different safety procedures. For example, loading or unloading flammable or combustible liquids is one of the most hazardous jobs at any manufacturing or storage facility.
Loading dock safety also needs to address the equipment and circumstances workers will encounter. For example, workers who are loading or unloading suspension-type highway trailers may face an increased risk of an accident because damaged trailers may not be able to support the weight of the powered industrial truck.
Loading Dock Safety Training
The OSHA 1910.178 standard covers powered industrial truck safety. This standard specifies the training requirements for forklift operators, including those who work on loading docks. Only trained and verified competent operators are allowed to operate a powered industrial truck. This training is provided by their employers.
What Training Does OSHA 1910.178 Require?
The OSHA powered industrial truck standard requires employers to develop and implement a training program that covers:
- Safe truck operation
- The types of vehicle(s) being used
- The hazards of the workplace created by the use of the vehicle(s)
- The general safety requirements of the OSHA standard
Trained forklift operators must know how to do the job properly and safely before they start working on a loading dock. Training must be provided, the knowledge and skills of forklift life operators evaluated, and the employer must certify that each operator has received the training. Refresher training must be provided whenever an operator demonstrates a deficiency in the safe operation of the truck.
The OSHA 1910-178 standard states that powered industrial truck training consists of a combination of:
- Formal instruction
- Group discussions
- Interactive computer or online learning
- Video presentations
- Written material
- Practical training
- Demonstrations performed by the trainer
- Practical exercises performed by the trainee
- Evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace.
Improving Loading Dock Safety - Preventing Falls and Struck By Accidents
Forklift turnover accidents account for a significant percentage of forklift related injuries and fatalities. Ensuring all OSHA standards are followed helps prevent these types of accidents.
- Train, evaluate and certify all forklift operators to ensure they can operate forklifts safely.
- Do not allow anyone under 18 years old to operate a forklift.
- Properly maintain haulage equipment, including tires and suspension.
- Before using a forklift, inspect it for damage or conditions which would make it unsafe to use.
- Follow safe procedures for picking up, putting down, and stacking loads.
- Drive safely, never exceeding 5 mph. Slow down in congested areas and in those areas with slippery surfaces.
Labels And Signs For Loading Dock Safety
Labels and signs help improve loading dock safety by warning about safety hazards, and by providing safety information and procedures. For example, use labels on a forklift to provide a safety inspection checklist that should be used at the start of each shift. Use signs to identify the pathways forklifts are to follow. Have signs that warn about slippery conditions, identify hazardous materials that require special handling, and show where emergency equipment is located.
Where do loading dock and warehouse signs come from?
DuraLabel printers and supplies.
DuraLabel printers and tough-tested supplies produce superior quality, durable, easy-to-make safety signs and labels. Of course, they also make other types of signs and labels, such as pipe markers and warehouse rack labels. DuraLabel quality is so good that DuraLabel printers come with a three year warranty (no extra charge). DuraLabel vinyl not only comes with a warranty, the labels and signs you make have a five year warranty. No other labeling brand has a warranty like that.
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