Loading docks are locations ripe for accident. The transition point between your building and the outdoor world is the spot where you're forced to cede control of things, whether you like it or not. Here you're dealing with trucks and drivers you don't know, bad weather, outdoor noise and distractions, and deterioration to your property. Any combination of factors can lead to accidents happening at the loading dock, and we're not just talking about those videos on YouTube of fully loaded pallet jacks tilting into truck bays and launching workers into the sky.
A little extra mindfulness can go a long way to prevent things from going wrong, saving your workers from injury and your equipment from damage. Not a bad thing to practice with winter creeping up on us, which always exacerbates things, particularly at the loading dock, where precision is your greatest virtue.
Daily inspections of your loading docks are the first way to spot and avert trouble. Look things over first thing in the morning. Has ice formed overnight? Slush or pooling water that may affect your forklifts or incoming trucks? Get on top of that first thing in the morning so nothing stands in the way of safety and productivity. You may also spot oil slicks or other chemical spills. Not only could these be slipping hazards, but they could be harmful to your workers' health, and, depending on the substance, indicate damage to a fork truck. If snow has built up, make sure it's totally clear of your dock, so that workers can easily see where drop-offs and the edge of the pavement are.
While you're at it, make sure your loading dock equipment is stowed where it should be. Make sure the right number of wheel chocks are available, and that your dock ramps are working correctly. See to it that bumpers and door padding are properly secured. That way you can confidently say you're ready to accept incoming trucks.
Look for things that don't belong on the dock too. Are spare pallets or material in the way of your fork trucks? Is debris dirtying up your work area and causing travel hazards? Clearly mark off the work area and educate your workers so they know what needs to be kept clean at all times. Loading and unloading trucks needs to be an efficient process, and when you have fork truck drivers who have memorized their routes, you don't want to surprise them with obstacles they're not used to, no matter how eagle-eyed they are.
As for relations between workers on foot and fork truck drivers, there's no such thing as too much communication. Have your fork truck drivers honk at every entryway and blind turn, and in bad weather make sure they take things slower. Bear in mind that during snow they'll be tracking slush and mud into your warehouse, so you need to keep your docks as clear as possible. At the same time, designate walkways and entry/exit points for workers on foot so they know not to wander through dock doors, which should be used exclusively by fork trucks.
Loading dock safety is a relatively simple thing to accomplish, and the rules you set there should be merely an extension of the rules you have in place for the rest of your building. Speedrack Midwest is dedicated to outfitting your warehouse or distribution center with safe equipment and educating you on proper protocols that will help you in the long run. If you're in need of equipment for your loading dock, or anywhere else in your warehouse, be sure to contact the material handling experts at Speedrack Midwest by calling 616-887-8886 or writing to us online.