Monday, December 8, 2014

5 Common Loading Dock Injuries and How to Avoid Them

If there is one area worth watching yourself in a warehouse, it's the loading dock. Around 25% of warehouse injuries occur in the loading dock, a figure that may not seem surprising if you have spent time in a warehouse. The loading dock is fast-paced, very busy and the people working there are often running behind. There is simply too much to do, in too little time. All of this creates the perfect environment for injury.

5 Loading Dock Injuries That Are Preventable

Fortunately, loading dock injuries can be avoided with a little forethought and commitment to safety standards. Consider the following injuries, and what can be done to prevent them:

1.    Injury from falling trailer loads – Trailer loads can shift even on short hauls. When you open the trailer door, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise. All it takes is a broken pallet or a top heavy load that shifted during transit to make opening the door dangerous. While falling loads will happen, you can avoid having them fall on you through simple precautions. Be careful when opening any trailer door, and be ready to step back if you sense a fall.

2.    Back injuries – Loading dock workers lift and strain all day, a perfect recipe for a back injury. This becomes even more of a risk when you are in a hurry, and fail to use proper lifting technique. Fortunately, there are several things that can be done to prevent back injuries.

First, workers should be taught how to lift – bend at the knees, avoid twisting with a load, use your legs. Second, the company should invest in any safety or assisting equipment that is appropriate for the tasks. Weight belts can help avoid strain, and things like pallet positioners – which assist in lifting and shifting pallets for loading or unloading – can greatly diminish back injuries. Third, workers should be encouraged to prioritize safe lifting over meeting time commitments. It is better for the job to take a little longer than risk injury.

3.    Getting crushed by a truck – Trucks are back into the loading dock all day, and if the right safety precautions are not in place, it is very easy for a worker to get crushed between the truck and the dock. To avoid this, trucks should be turned off, the tires chocked and the driver out of the vehicle – anytime a worker must between the dock and the truck. This may seem tedious when something needs to be done quickly, but it is the most fool-proof method of saving lives from this kind of deadly accident.

4.    Getting hit by a forklift – The only thing that moves in and out of the dock more quickly than the dock workers is the forklift driver. These little machines make all that lifting and stacking possible. But they also prose a hazard to anyone in their vicinity. It takes concentration to fork a load properly, and to get that load across the warehouse or the dock. Drivers are often unaware of others because of this. Drivers must be trained to avoid accidents, and all available safety equipment should be employed – including convex mirrors, rear-view mirrors and backing alarms.

5.    Injuries from improperly stacked loads – A load can be just as dangerous in the dock as in the trailer. Falling loads can injure or kill workers. This can be avoided through proper stacking technique. Workers should know not to stack heavy items on top of lighter items, or big loads on top of small loads. Shrink wrap can also help increase stability.

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