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Loading Dock Safety Tips

Loading Dock Safety Tips American Insurance June 20, 2019

Loading Dock Safety Tips

Loading dock safety tips

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Loading dock safety tips

Forklift accidents cost business more than $135 million each year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) and that´s only one type of accident that can occur on the loading dock.  Loading docks can be dangerous places for forklifts. Falls from a loading dock in a forklift can be fatal.

When operating a forklift on a loading dock, slow down, watch out for others, and be aware of the edge of the dock.  Here you can find some loading dock safety tips to keep in mind.

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Potential Hazards:

  • Falling off the edge of the dock.
  • Skidding or slipping due to wet or icy conditions.

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Loading dock safety tips:

  • Maintain a safe distance from the edge of loading dock.
  • Watch out for tail swing.
  • Keep working surfaces clear and clean.
  • Paint the edges of the loading dock to improve visibility.
  • Always look in the direction of travel.  Be carefull at the edge of the loading docks.
  • Use curbe ramps and dockboards to keep lift trucks from sliding.
  • Check for pedestrians, over vehicles, and other obstacles when exiting trailers.

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Safe Handling Preparation

The load center is the distance from the face of the forks to the load’s center of gravity. Many forklifts are rated using a 24-inch load center, which means that the load’s center of gravity must be 24 inches or less from the face of the forks.

Recommended Practices:

  • Secure the load so it is safely arranged and stable.
  • Center the load as nearly as possible.
  • Do not overload. Know the stated capacity of your forklift and do not exceed it.
  • A forklift’s capacity is rated for a specified load center. If the load is off-center, improperly distributed, or oversized, it may exceed capacity and unbalance the forklift.
  • Use the load extension backrest.

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While approaching a load, be aware of the approaching too fast or turning too rapidly.

Recommended Practices:

  • Approach the load slowly and carefully. Stop 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) in front of the load. Be certain that the truck is placed squarely in front of the load and that the forks are at the correct height. Set the direction control to neutral.
  • Do not raise or lower the forks unless the forklift is stopped and the brake is set.
  • Prior to raising the load, ensure there is adequate overhead clearance. Vision is obstructed after the load is elevated.
  • Use the inching pedal to creep the load to the stack.

Mast Position

While moving the mast, be aware of tipovers and dropped loads while moving the mast.

Recommended Practices:

  • Use extreme care when tilting loads. Do not tilt forward with forks elevated except when picking up or depositing a load. When stacking or tiering, tilt backward only enough to stabilize the load.
  • Use extra caution when handling loads that approach the truck’s maximum rated capacity.
  • Tilt the mast forward cautiously when positioning the load onto the stack.
  • Never travel with the load tilted forward. Tilting the load forward increases the load distance and makes the load less stable.

Fork Position

While moving the forks into position, be aware of tipover, dropped load, and collision.

Recommended Practices:

  • Level the forks before inserting them into the pallet.
  • The forks must be placed under the load as far as possible.
  • Slide the forks into the pallet until they are fully under the load. The forks should be at least two-thirds the length of the load.
  • Be careful that the forks do not go through to the other side where pallets are closely stacked.
  • Center the weight of the load between the forks. Adjust the forks to distribute the weight evenly. Note that forks are adjustable either manually or with a fork positioner.
  • Tilt the mast back carefully to stabilize the load.
  • Pick up an off-center load carefully. There is a greater danger of a tipover.

Lifting the Load

While lifting the load, be aware of insufficient clearance, falling loads, and stuck loads.

Recommended Practices:

  • Check that there is adequate overhead clearance before raising the load. This is especially true when high tiering or in a confined space like a truck trailer. There must be sufficient headroom under overhead installations, lights, pipes, sprinkler systems, etc.
  • Carefully lift the load up above the lower stack about 10 cm.
  • Lift the load clear and then tilt the mast back slightly to rest the load against the load backrest extension.
  • Ensure that the load does not catch on any obstructions.
  • Slowly return the lift control lever to the neutral position.

Lowering the Load

While lowering the load, be aware of the falling loads and striking objects.

Recommended Practices:

  • Ensure the load is secured before moving.
  • Carefully tilt the mast backward to stabilize the load.
  • Slowly move the truck to 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) away from the stack.
  • Stop the truck.
  • Return the mast to the vertical position before lowering the load.
  • Lower the load so that its lowest point is 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inches) from the floor.
  • While traveling, keep the load at a safe travel height.