Loading docks or bays are utilized by many warehouses, factories, industrial buildings, and retail businesses to unload and load goods, parts, and other materials. While they can make loading and unloading a truck easier, they are often congested areas filled with rushing workers, forklifts, other heavy machinery, and goods. Unfortunately, workers in the loading dock or on the truck delivering or picking up a load are at risk of suffering serious injuries or dying in a tragic accident.
What Are the Causes of Accidents in Loading Docks?
A loading dock is a recessed bay in a building where loading and unloaded duties are performed. The most common design is a flush dock where the face of the dock is level with the outside of the building, often with a dock bumper extending out to protect the building’s wall. However, some docks are enclosed in the building with access for the truck to drive into it. Common causes of accidents in these busy work areas include:
- Slip and fall accidents. Slip and fall accidents are some of the most common ways that dock workers are injured. This can involve slipping on spills of oil and water from the forklift or leaks in other containers being unloaded from the truck. If debris is not cleaned up, busy workers can suffer a trip and fall accident.
- Falling from the edge of the dock. Dock workers who are focused on their job can fall off the dock’s edge when the dock door is left open after loading or unloading a truck or there is no barricade installed.
- Loads. When a truck load is not secured properly, it can shift in transit, even on a short trip. If strips or pallets break or the load becomes loose, the materials being transported can fall on unsuspecting dock workers or the truck driver when the trailer door is opened, sometimes crushing them under a heavy load.
- Overexertion. Workers in loading docks must lift heavy goods, materials, and boxes. In the rush to get the truck loaded or unloaded, they may overexert themselves, with back, shoulder, knee, and spinal injuries being the possible result.
- Truck backing up. When a truck is backing up, the truck driver may not see nearby workers in the loading dock. This can lead to a tragic accident where a worker is crushed between the big-rig truck and the wall or dock’s edge, causing the person to suffer catastrophic injuries or death.
- Forklifts. Forklift accidents occur when operators do not see workers around them either because they are in a blind spot or the operator is focused on situating his forks or driving onto the dock. This can be disastrous for employees working nearby. An equally devastating accident can occur if the forklift falls off the dock or tips over, falling onto an unsuspecting worker or the truck driver and injuring the forklift operator.
- Pedestrians in the trailer. Dock workers or truckers who are in the trailer while the forklift is operating face serious dangers of being crushed by the forklift. It is always best for the forklift to stay away from the trailer when people need to be in it.
- Hazardous materials. Dock workers can be exposed to many toxic chemicals or substances, depending on what is being unloaded and loaded, that can cause injuries or an occupational illness if the exposure is severe or long-term. In addition, carbon monoxide from the truck’s exhaust can be extremely dangerous if the dock is in an enclosed area.
- Noise. Docks can be very loud workplaces, and if the noise is excessive, workers risk permanent hearing loss unless safety precautions are taken.
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