In 2020, we saw an unprecedented string of supply chain disruptions, high pressure demands on essential products and services, and a mounting list of safety concerns—not the least of which was the threat of COVID- 19.
As our essential businesses worked tirelessly to keep Americarunning, many experienced safety concerns related to their centralactivity hubs—their loading docks. Most business leaders fail tounderstand and appreciate the risks for workers and equipment atthe loading docks, and even fewer grasp the potential consequences.
According to OSHA, one out of four workplace accidents occurat the loading dock area, and there are 600 near-misses for everyincident that ends up occurring. Equipment failures alone contributeto thousands of accidents around loading docks, including morethan 110,000 incidents annually, costing businesses an estimated$135 million—and that’s only the incidents involving forklifts. It’s aserious safety issue, and one that too few businesses have sufficientlyaddressed. But what are the most common issues to watch for? Andwhat can you do to guard against them?
1. Door Drift
It’s common for loading dock door springs, which are usually 20 to 30 feet high in the air, to be poorly or ineffectivelyadjusted or not adjusted at all. This can cause the door to “drift”down into the actual opening of the dock. Forklift drivers, notknowing the door has drifted, slam into the bottom panel ofthe door and the intermediate panels, causing damage. Thisdamage then has further consequences, when the products ormaterials can’t be unloaded, new trailers can’t be loaded up andcustomer deadlines are missed, causing companies to have topay detention fines. If the company doesn’t have replacementpanels on site, this kind of repair could take days or even afull week to fix.
Door drift may leave a team unable to perform efficiently, scrambling to fulfill orders with fewer loading positions available.
2. Dock Leveler Lip Extension
A dock leveler lip, which is supposed to extend into the backof the leveler, doesn’t always extend out the way it should. Thisis commonly caused by spring and cable issues that usually occurbecause of lack of proper maintenance. When the lip does not extendout appropriately, employees often use their hands to hold the lipout, while someone either walks it down or uses a forklift to drive itdown. This is an extremely unsafe practice and workers have beenseriously injured this way.
3. Knocked-down Dock Bumpers
Dock bumpers can be popped off the wall, causing concretedamage, wall damage and product damage, when trucks grind upand down during loading and unloading of trailers. This is likelyoccurring more frequently now due to the use of air ride suspensiontrailers. The air in the truck bladders can now drop six to eightinches, which allows the up and down grinding motion. Additionally, yard jockeys have a tendency tomove the trailers even more, getting under the dockbumpers and popping them off the wall.
To help prevent and avoid these common loadingdock safety hazards, it’s important to conduct regularproactive maintenance on your loading dock.
Start by conducting a thorough safety assessmentto survey the current condition of the facility andthe equipment, and compile written and electronicevidence, then create a specific, tailored proactivemaintenance program based on the data captured.Better yet, leverage a digital Internet of Things (Io T)tool to log maintenance and service data to track repairs over time.
This kind of program, which can be done mosteffectively with the help of technologically smartsolutions, will help to ensure safe standards aremet, productivity is maintained and performanceis heightened. MH&L
Dennis Sanacore is vice president of strategic sales at Miner ( www.minercorp.com),the docks and doors special division of On-Point Group.
Learn more about the greatest safety issues involving loading docks, andhow to prevent them, work safely and move materials on time.
By Dennis Sanacore