Loading Dock Safety

Forklift accidents are one of the most common pedestrian accidents in the United States; with nearly 100 deaths and 20,000 seriously injured workers each year.  It’s imperative for decision makers to understand the technologies available and how they can help increase safety between workers.  Better communication between operators and pedestrians will also help reduce collisions.  According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the most common causes of forklift fatalities include:

  • 22% – Forklift overturns
  • 20% – Worker on foot struck by forklift
  • 16% – Victim crushed by forklift
  • 9% – Fall from forklift

One of the most difficult places to operate a forklift is the shipping and receiving loading dock.  The operators have to maneuver in tight confines and watch out for slippery surfaces.  The workers shouldn’t have to worry about slipping when dealing with large, two ton forklifts.  While employee’s travel from loading dock to dock, they should feel confident on their feet.

Forklifts could experience difficulty when making abrupt stops, which could be dangerous to employees.  One study shows that a quick, panic stop takes 1.3 feet for each mile per hour.  If the forklift encounters a slippery surface, it will take even longer to make a complete stop.  Adding slip resistance to the loading dock would be beneficial for the employee’s and forklift.

There are many forklift safety technologies available for different plants such as proximity laser scanners, motion sensors, systems which track the real-time movement of forklifts and even the most basic devices like rear view mirrors and traffic control signs.  By incorporating these technologies and slip resistance you should be able to reduce accidents and improve productivity on the loading docks.

“Take Control of Loading Dock Safety”. Plant Engineering. October 2010. http://www.plantengineering.com/search/search-single-display/take-control-of-loading-dock-safety/bfd55cba95.html

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