Are you up to the challenge of keeping your workers safe?

Posted On: June 22, 2016 in Workplace Safety

Any time workers are around heavy machinery the potential for injury and accidents naturally increases. When the heavy machinery is constantly moving, like on a loading dock, the chance for mishaps grows even more.

Any business with a loading dock – be it a warehouse, distribution center, retail store or another type of business – needs to take the appropriate precautions to ensure workplace safety. In addition to proper training and following all safety rules and regulations, companies also need to make the investment in proper safety equipment and features to create a better work environment around loading docks.

Addressing and investing in the right areas can improve worker safety.

Visual communication

Active loading docks are not quiet places, and the inability to hear even a shouted command or warning can have dire consequences. That’s why it’s important to have good visual communication mechanisms in place around your loading docks.

Some external loading dock doors have the option of including windows or vision panel sections. In addition to letting in useful natural light, these see-through features also help ensure everyone can see other people moving around on the dock or inside, even when the loading bay door is closed. Awareness is a major component of safety and anything that can be done to increase awareness of your surroundings is helpful.

During the midst of work, giving workers easy, noticeable visual cues will help them safely perform their jobs. It’s important to make sure directional or warning lights on doors, truck restraint systems, fork lifts and other moving equipment are present, operational and well maintained.

Be sure that visual barriers and marked ledges are also well-maintained. This can be as simple as painting ledges, columns and low overhangs bright yellow or marking them with reflective tape (as long as any systems used are up to code).

Automated systems

Automated systems lend themselves to safety because they largely reduce the chance of human error or negligence. Loading dock automation can be as simple as doors that automatically retract if the safety edges bumps into something while closing, or as complex as fully integrated control systems.

Automated control panels integrate several loading dock functions into a single point of control that’s run by a computer. These systems not only improve efficiency, they also improve safety by making sure everything works properly and is triggered in the correct sequence – there’s no skipping steps or taking shortcuts with an integrated control panel.

While automated systems require upgrading existing infrastructure, the pay off in safety and efficiency is often worth it.

Right doors for your environment

Another important safety practice is to choose the right loading dock doors for your environment and needs.

If you’re concerned about efficiency and energy conservation and opt to go with a high speed door, ensure it has an automatic reserve feature to prevent the door from closing on a person, machinery or product.

Regularly check the seal of all loading dock doors and invest in good weather seals so that loading dock floors don’t become wet and slippery or cluttered with debris that could cause slipping or tripping and affect clear visibility. In high-wind environments, choose a door that is designed to be wind resistant and withstand strong gusts to help prevent the door from dislodging and hitting a worker.

Plan for and prevent the worse

A good rule of thumb when addressing safety is to imagine and plan for the worse.

Ensure that your loading dock is equipped with trailer restraints to prevent premature truck departure. If there’s an area near the loading dock where forklifts are not allowed to go, erect a permanent physical barrier to prevent entry – especially is the space nearby is a high pedestrian area.

Finally, make sure all areas are well lit. Basic, good inside and outside lighting can go a long way to ensuring loading dock safety.