February 19, 2016 | Industry Insights, Insights, Shipping

Loading Dock Safety and Preventing Employee Slip & Fall Injuries

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Loading docks present a number of significant risks, not at all surprising when considering the volume of traffic that takes place at these locations, as well as the variety of personnel who are required to work in the area. As there are too many hazards to address in one article, the following focuses on slips and falls prevention at loading docks. Slips and falls are a leading cause of Workers’ Compensation claims in the U.S., according to a recent insurer survey, and contribute to the $62 billion spent by employers for employee injuries in 2013, as reflected in recent statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The following are some general measures, including some from OSHA, to emphasize in your operation to help minimize slips and falls in the loading dock area:

  • Keep floors clean, dry and in good condition. This involves ensuring that all spills, leaks and wet areas are cleaned up immediately. Alert trained responders to major spills and follow safety guidelines for cleaning up a chemical spill. Report and repair any cracks, holes or other damage to flooring at once. Keep all containers, packaging and tools out of the way, and clean up and properly dispose of trash.
  • Strongly encourage/enforce that employees watch where they’re walking and to stay clear of dock edges, with any unsafe behavior such as jumping onto or off the loading dock firmly discouraged.
  • Keep dock plates in place. Check dock plate load capacity to ensure it can handle your load, and secure movable dockboards in position so they don’t slip. Slide – don’t drop – dock plates in top position.
  • Keep dock areas and stairs free of ice and snow. Water entering the dock loading area can create a slip hazard for both visitors and employees using mechanical equipment. Most loading bays have canopies, curtains or shelters to create a weather shield. However, ill-fitting seals or different vehicle and trailer designs, such as trailers designed to improve aerodynamics, may compromise the weather shield. The sloping design means that water will naturally run backwards into the loading area. There are a number of types of canopy, seal or shelter available for docks to protect the vehicle/trailer and dock interface from the weather and in particular from water ingress, which creates the slip hazard. Generally, the more adjustable the canopy, the better the fit. However, adjustable systems generally require more maintenance and may be more prone to damage. Be sure to consider the type of canopy most suitable for your operations. Also, ensure where possible, that trailers are fitted with rainwater grooves to divert the water off sideways and not off the rear into the dock.

In future articles, we’ll cover other loading dock hazards, including equipment and machinery risks, dock creep, load run-away, driver pull-away and other issues, to help ensure a high level of worker and driver safety. Roanoke Trade is committed to helping logistic service providers with their loss control efforts for improved safety outcomes, healthier employees and reduced insurance costs. For more information about our comprehensive business insurance products and effective risk management to help mitigate losses, contact one of our professionals at 1-800-ROANOKE (800-762-6653).

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