5 Ways to Improve Safety Around Your Docks

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Dock loading areas can be one of the most hazardous places in a warehouse and dock safety is surely an important area of concern in facility management and operation systems.

With the increasing number of facilities using dock systems, it is extremely vital to identify and prevent possible hazards that may occur to avoid accidents and damages on employees and the facility.

Once hazards are identified, the following potential controls may be considered and steps to improve the design of the loading dock area should be taken whenever possible to remove the identified hazard.

  1. Loading Dock Design and accessories

Special attention must be given to the loading dock area design and several factors must be considered when coordinating dock heights and door sizes, and when selecting the proper loading dock equipment.

The loading dock area must be designed to allow safe entry and exit of vehicles and safe routes around loading dock areas for pedestrian traffic must be clearly marked.

If a dock leveller is in use, ensure it is appropriate for the volume and weight of materials being handled. Reduce uneven surfaces between the loading area, dock plate and the trailer, to reduce slips and falls. Adequate lighting in the loading dock areaand in trailers should be provided to prevent slips, trips and falls, and collisions.

In addition, removable safety barriers like Dok-guardians can be installed to prevent forklifts, pallet jacks and pedestrians from falling off the docks. Trailer stands can also be used to provide back-up for a trailer’s landing gear to prevent trailer from tipping when a forklift is loading at the front.

  1. Training loading dock personnel

All workers should be educated on the need to use these marked areas when walking through the loading dock area and that vehicular traffic (including fork-lifts) should not enter these areas. The loading dock personnel must be educated and trained on how to use the equipment and identify the warning signals.

If a person does not fully understand a piece of equipment they are unlikely to use it properly. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure proper training is provided for the loading dock workers.


  1. Positioning and Securing Vehicles

Equipment, such as dock and truck levelers and these dock safety equipment. Some equipment used as safety restraints for vehicles are wheel chocks or wheel stoppers; manual and global wheel locks which engages the rear tire of the truck or trailer with a barrier to keep it in place.

  1. Loading and Unloading of Materials and Goods

Traffic management plans must be implemented to reduce congestion in the dock area. Pedestrians and unauthorized persons should not be permitted at the loading zone.

Ensure dock plates have appropriate capacity, stability and proper placement. Provide physical barriers at dock edges and on lifting devices to prevent falls. Proper lifting techniques should be used when loading and unloading boxes and heavy loads to prevent musculoskeletal disorder injuries. Reduce vehicle exhaust by limiting idling times and turning of vehicle engines when loading or unloading the truck.

A Dock system control box such as Dok-commander can be added to improve dock safety in an easy to use dock system.

  1. Adequate Preventive Maintenance

A regular preventive maintenance program for loading dock equipment including dock levellers, restraints, doors, dock bumpers, lights, and communication systems must be established. Any damage to flooring reported by workers or identified during workplace inspections must also be repaired immediately.

Ensure that good housekeeping practices are in place. Clean up spills and leaks immediately and remove and dispose of any packaging materials (cardboard, pallets, plastic, etc.). Regularly check dock seals and shelters to ensure they are not leaking, to minimize worker exposure to vehicle exhaust and temperature extremes, as well as minimize deterioration of the building envelope due to weather.