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Loading dock safety A loading dock or loading docks is an architectural fixture where trucks may be loaded and unloaded. They are commonly found on commercial and industrial buildings. Dock levelers can be operated via mechanical (spring), hydraulic or air powered systems. Warehouses that handle palletized freight use a dock leveler, so items can be easily loaded and unloaded using power moving equipment (e.g. a forklift). When a truck backs into such a loading dock, the bumpers on the loading dock and the bumpers on the trailer come into contact and create a gap; also, the warehouse floor and the trailer deck may not be horizontally aligned. Assess the risk Risk, in relation to any injury or harm means the probability of that harm or injury occurring. The risk can be assessed by applying the following steps: Gather information about each hazard identified. Think about how many people are exposed to the hazard. Use this information to assess the "likelihood" and the "consequences" of each hazard. When assessing how likely it is that a hazardous event or situation will occur, consider the following categories of "Likelihood". Very likely - could happen frequently. Likely - could happen occasionally. Unlikely - could happen, but only rarely. Highly unlikely - could happen, but probably never will. Examples of points to be considered when assessing the risk would be: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Are forklifts used on the loading dock How many forklifts use the loading dock. Is the loading dock undercover. Is the loading dock exposed to the elements. Is the surface of the loading dock smooth or likely to be slippery when wet. How easy is access to the loading dock achieved. Do forklifts have to manoeuvre on the loading dock. Is the area congested eg. with goods received, storage items, other forklifts, etc. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. Do pedestrians use the area. What is the risk of collision between vehicles and pedestrian traffic. Is a dock leveller in position and how is it operated. Is the loading dock suitable for rear or side loading trucks. When a truck is in position does it protect edges. The hazards facing employees who work on loading docks present special safety issues. Workers must not only be careful about what they are doing, but they must also be aware of others working around them, particularly of co-workers using forklifts and other forms of material-handling equipment. Loading dock hazards include: • slips caused by wet or oily floors; • falls from dock edges; • falls caused by unsecured dock plates; • carbon monoxide exposure from truck and powered material-handling equipment; • back injuries from improper lifting or carrying; • head and eye injuries from falling objects; • hearing damage from a loud noise level; and • injuries from careless operation of forklifts. Preventing slips, trips and falls Not surprisingly, slips, trip, and falls are among the most common types of loading dock accidents. With so much activity, materials and equipment around, employees are at risk of injury unless precautions are taken to manage the area to promote safety. Make sure to address these concerns whenever they arise. • Spills, leaks and wet areas need to be cleaned up immediately. • Cracks, holes or other damage to flooring needs to be repaired. • Dock plates must be properly placed. • Containers, packaging and tools must be kept out of the way. • Trash must be removed from the area and disposed of properly. • Employees must be encouraged to watch where they're walking and to stay clear of dock edges. • Horseplay and other unsafe behavior, such as jumping onto or off the loading dock must be firmly discouraged. Employees must also be taught how to use material-handling equipment safely. For example, they should know how to load a hand truck safely so that it is well balanced and the load is secure. Safety precautions required around vehicles. Some loading dock injuries occur when employees are hit by powered material-handling equipment operating in the area. Other accidents occur because trucks and trailers are not properly secured and shut down. With a little bit of awareness, training and enforcement of safe practices, your loading dock can be a safe place for all employees who work there Rules for vehicle safety should include the following: • Truck drivers must turn off their engines to prevent carbon monoxide release. • Forklift drivers (not truck drivers) must check to see that truck wheels are chocked (they're the ones who could be injured). • Loading dock employees are prohibited from riding on forklifts or distracting the operators. • Loading dock employees must pay attention to power vehicles and other material-handling equipment and keep out of the way. To prevent injuries on loading docks, follow the rules printed on the following checklist. Prevent slips, trips, and falls __ Walk, don't run. __ Stay away from dock edges. __ Don't jump onto or off a loading dock. __ Don't indulge in horseplay. __ Don't clutter walking and driving areas. __ Pick up trash and dispose of it properly. __ Clean up or report spills, leaks or wet areas immediately. __ Report any holes, cracks, or other damage in flooring. __ Secure movable dock boards. __ Watch where you're going. Prevent vehicle accidents-incidents __ Turn off truck engineers to prevent release of carbon monoxide. __ Be sure truck wheels are chocked. __ Don't ride on a forklift or distract the driver. __ Don't stand under the forks of a power vehicle, even if the forks are empty. __ Keep alert to power vehicles moving around you. __ Get out of the way when a forklift horn sounds. Prevent lifting and loading injuries incidents __ Lift only what you can carry without strain. Otherwise, get a helper, a hand truck or other material-handling aid. __ Lift properly: Bend your knees and lift with your legs to save your back. __ Use the same technique for unloading materials. __ Balance hand truck loads with heavy objects on the bottom. __ Keep the load weight forward, over the axle. __ Keep hand truck loads at a height you can see over. Prevention not reaction is the key to success! Loading docks are busy areas. Trucks, trailers, and forklifts move throughout loading areas. Trailers, dock levellers, and rolling doors can cause pinch points, and elevated docks pose a fall hazard. Workers must pay attention to these hazards and focus on safety training, the proper equipment, and strict observation and supervision of work tasks. Get training on loading dock safety, safe work practices, and equipment such as pallet movers and dock levellers or bridges. Do not operate a forklift without proper training. Wear personal protective equipment such as gloves and steel-toed boots with a grip sole and heel. Dress appropriately for hot and cold environments. Consider hearing protection and eye protection depending on the environment in which you will be working. Safety starts at the dock approach, so make sure it is in good repair, free from potholes and large cracks. Mark trailer lanes and positions clearly for easy backing, parking, and spotting. Ensure that chocks and dock bumpers are present and in good repair. Ideally, dock bumpers should be made of fire-resistant materials to avoid fires caused by trailer lights. To decrease exposure to diesel exhaust, ensure that trucks do not idle at the dock.
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