Safety has to be the top priority of any warehouse manager, and one place where they should address the persistent problems surrounding such issues is the loading dock. Industry-wide, accidents and injuries are all too common in this particular part of the warehouse - by some estimates, they account for 1 in every 4 workplace accidents - but there are plenty of ways to deal with that issue on an ongoing basis.
Your efforts to reduce loading dock safety incidents should certainly include the following:
1) Mark where people are and aren't allowed to walk
A particularly common issue on loading docks is people walking where they aren't supposed to, including into the paths of vehicles like forklifts, or off the side of the dock itself, according to Load Delivered. For that reason, those areas where it is unsafe to walk should be marked off with bright colors, and potentially also a different floor texture. That way, everyone knows when they're walking into potential trouble areas.
2) Use lights and signs to communicate
Likewise, it's important to let people know when they may be at greater risk for an accident, with signs and lights that visually communicate when and where it's safe to pass, Load Delivered advised. This can help reduce collisions and keep people out of the way of busy docking bays. All the potential guesswork workers would normally have to do when they're unsure is replaced with an easy-to-read light or sign system.
3) Keep the floors clear
Slipping and tripping hazards are a problem anywhere in your warehouse, but they may be especially common around the loading docks, according to EHS Daily Advisor. This is particularly true if you have a dock that is at least partially exposed to the elements. As such, make sure your team is cleaning up spills and clearing other hazards as soon as they're spotted. Otherwise, even one misplaced step can end in a serious injury.
4) Avoid long exposure to truck exhaust
When your employees spend long periods of time working to load or unload a trailer, they may be unduly exposed to exhaust fumes that can result in carbon monoxide poisoning, EHS Daily Advisor added. For that reason, it's important to have policies in place to help prevent these issues, such as by having "tag out" rules after a certain amount of time, or ensuring trucks are shut off when not in use.
5) Make sure all trailers are properly secured
One thing you certainly want to avoid in your loading dock is having a truck shift while people are working on it, according to Wesco. That can be due to "trailer creep" or because the truck hasn't securely attached to the dock itself, but in both cases, it's a potentially dangerous issue. Instead, make sure your workers know the proper procedures for how trucks are to be secured while they're loaded or unloaded, and that those protocols are followed every time a truck comes into your facility.