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A loading dock tends to be a busy area where chemicals or materials are received, and all this activity can make it a dangerous place to work. Areas where outgoing freight is staged and incoming material is checked and inspected can be chaotic and hazardous for both pedestrians and forklifts. Make sure all employees follow proper safety procedures.

A number of things can cause injuries in loading dock areas, including:

  • Falls from docks;
  • Being pinned or crushed by goods or material;
  • Being struck by equipment such as forklifts;
  • Not using proper lifting techniques;
  • Coming into contact with chemicals or other hazardous substances.

Safety procedures

For outdoor areas where trailers are backed into loading docks, some general rules for truck traffic include the following:

  • Implement a rule for truck traffic to flow in a counter-clockwise direction around the facility. Turning left is usually easier than turning right (due to better visibility).
  • Trucks should have a staging area where they can wait before backing up to a dock.
  • Maintain sufficient loading area for each dock. This can range from 60-70 feet in front of the dock and from 2-3 feet on either side of the truck.

Forklift operators should be especially careful when unloading trailers by using the following precautions:

  • Chock the trailer wheels to prevent the trailer from walking or creeping, or engage the dock lock if available.
  • Verify that dockboards are in good repair and properly positioned.
  • Don’t allow pedestrians in trailers with a forklift. The likelihood of being crushed is greater in tight spaces.
  • If unloading small delivery trucks, use hand pallet jacks instead of forklifts. These types of vehicles are not usually designed to support forklifts.