We often don't think about the dangers involved in and around our dock areas until unfortunately an injury happens and hopefully not a serious injury. The truth is often we find that the dock areas present one of the most inherently dangerous areas inside out operations. Dock areas are often very busy
areas with lift truck traffic and pedestrian traffic mingled together. This is further exasperated by limited sight visibility. What we mean is lift trucks are going into and out of trailers, and as the lift truck drivers are exiting the trailers their vision is limited. Dock walkers or pedestrians often use the pathway directly behind the trailer to walk and view loading processes. This obviously sets the stage for a potential deadly interaction between lift truck operators and pedestrians. Training, clearly defined requirements, and accountability are key component to preventing this deadly interaction. Train lift truck operators that they MUST stop before exiting the trailer, blow the horn, and visually check to ensure there is no pedestrian traffic be fore completely exiting the trailer. Establish clear pedestrian walking paths at your dock areas, and if possible keep the pedestrian pathways 4-6 feet from the dock doors. This makes it easier for both the pedestrian and the lift truck operator to see each other when the lift truck operator is exiting the trailer. Clearly establish, document, and train right of way expectations to your workforce. Without personnel accountable to following the established procedures that are developed. Without accountability from everyone these policies lose their viability and effectiveness quickly.
Another hazard that can't be overlooked when evaluating your dock safety program is protecting the dock anyone falling off the dock. OSHA standards now require that you must support your protective railing across the open dock with a mid rail. Another consideration that we want to address in this blog is something often overlooked and that is your ground level dock doors. Because the ground level dock isn't at an elevated surface we often don't put much emphasis on protecting this dock. However, failing to do so can present your business and your employees with a security hazard. Ground level docks should have the door closed when not in use, or if the door is left open security gates should be considered as a measure to help ensure the safety of your employees.