A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH TO LOADING DOCK SAFETY

Loading docks are a busy and sometimes dangerous place. In most loading dock environments, you have semi-trucks pulling in and out of the approach, material handlers buzzing about and employees working around the dock. All of this activity can lead to accidents without the proper systems and procedures in place.

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A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH TO LOADING DOCK SAFETY 1-888-841-4283 RiteHite.com WALTER SWIETLIK RITE-HITE CORPORATION Loading docks are a busy and sometimes dangerous place. In most loading dock environments, you have semi-trucks pulling in and out of the approach, material handlers buzzing about and employees working around the dock. All of this activity can lead to accidents without the proper systems and procedures in place. According to the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 100 workers are killed and 95,000 injured every year while operating forklifts. Many of these accidents are related to turnovers or when a forklift operator drives off the dock. In addition, the health of forklift operators is at risk due to repetitive vibration exposure called “Dock Shock.” Some of the more common accidents and health risks at the loading dock include: EARLY DEPARTURE - A truck driver unexpectedly drives away from the loading dock while a forklift operator is entering, leaving or still inside the trailer. LANDING GEAR COLLAPSE - The landing gear on a trailer gives way causing the trailer to pitch forward or fall to the side. TRAILER POP-UP - A loaded forklift entering the rear of the trailer causes it to move forward and drop, causing the nose of the trailer to suddenly rise. TRAILER UPENDING - The weight of the forklift sends the trailer’s nose down, causing the rear end to move up and away from the building. TRAILER CREEP - Repeated impact from the lift truck causes the trailer to edge away from the dock, which can result in the lift truck falling to the ground. DOCK SHOCK - Long-term, repetitive vibration exposure to forklift operators as they enter and exit trailer beds Greater safety and efficiency at the loading dock can be achieved when companies incorporate a system of products and a detailed sequence of operations to create “full-time” safety at the dock. The use of barrier systems, automated vehicle restraints, levelers and lighted communication systems – working together – can help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries to workers. For many companies, a loading dock safety strategy may encompass one or all of the following elements: INTERLOCKING SYSTEMS - An interlocking system prevents the operation of equipment until certain conditions are met. For example, an automatic vehicle restraint would not release a trailer until a loading dock barrier is put in place. Interlocking systems are focused on the safety and security of workers. INTERCONNECTING SYSTEMS - An interconnecting system allows a piece of equipment to operate only when another piece of equipment is activated first. An example is when a button is pushed to activate a dock leveler, then a vehicle restraint engages. Interconnecting systems are focused on safety as well as enhanced efficiency. To determine which system is most ideal for your loading dock application, you must first address some important questions: What types of trailers are coming to your loading dock? What is the process for securing these trailers to ensure the safety of material handlers? What type of communication system is being used to alert drivers and workers of vehicle restraint status? When a truck departs, how is the loading dock opening secured? Companies like Rite-Hite (www.Rite-Hite.com) can help you address these questions and provide recommendations on what products, systems and procedures will work best for your environment. The process starts by breaking down your sequence of operations to fully understand your risks, while identifying process improvements. The end result is a customized solution to meet a specific application. In a typical loading dock environment, the process starts when a truck driver is backing up in the approach. Communication is key at this point. The truck driver should see a green light indicating that it’s clear to back into the loading dock bay. Conversely, loading dock workers and material handlers should see a red light inside the facility alerting them that it’s unsafe to enter the trailer. Additional communication/safety options include a barrier system covering the loading dock door until the truck is secured at the dock. Once the trailer has backed into the dock and is secured using a vehicle restraint, the lights inside the building change to green letting workers know that it’s safe to remove the barrier and enter the trailer. The information provided herein is provided as a general reference regarding the use of the applicable products in a specific application. This information is provided without warranty. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are using all mentioned products properly in your specific application and in accordance with all laws and regulations. 1-888-841-4283 RiteHite.com DOK-LOK® VEHICLE RESTRAINTS Outside, a red light tells the driver not to pull away. The process follows a similar pattern when a trailer leaves the loading dock. Rite-Hite is recognized globally as one of the true innovators in loading dock safety and productivity. The company offers a variety of solutions to address many of the issues that companies face at the loading dock and beyond. The following products work together to create a safer, more production and more profitable work environment. The Dok-Lok from Rite-Hite is considered the industry standard for securing trailers at the loading dock because it offers the most substantial wrap on rear-impact guards and the widest vertical engagement range (9-30 inches). Some models can even help secure overseas or intermodal containers, which are increasingly more common at the loading dock. In addition to the Dok-Lok, Rite-Hite offers wheel-based restraints for lift-gate trailers or trailers with damaged (or missing) rear-impact guards. Traditional vehicle restraint systems use a red or green light on the control box and outside the building to indicate restraint status. This is an important safety feature, but it has limitations. For example, what if the control box inside the building is not in the line of site of the forklift operator? What if the forklift load is obstructing the control box? What if the control box is covered by pallets? Fully-integrated communication systems that provide instant, status-at-a- glance feedback provide the safest solution. For example, Rite Hite offers the Rite-Vu™ Light Communication System, which provides clear, constant communication of restraint status to the forklift operator when entering and exiting the trailer. In addition to lights on the control box, the system features Corner-Vu lights that are located in the upper corners of the interior dock door. These lights provide a highly-visible status report as the forklift driver enters the trailer. There is also Leveler-Vu lights that are mounted on the dock leveler to confirm restraint status as the forklift driver backs out of the trailer. With the Rite-Vu system, everyone is on the same page, including the truck driver, loading dock personnel and material handlers. RITE-VU™ LIGHT COMMUNICATION SYSTEM The information provided herein is provided as a general reference regarding the use of the applicable products in a specific application. This information is provided without warranty. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are using all mentioned products properly in your specific application and in accordance with all laws and regulations. 1-888-841-4283 RiteHite.com DOK-GUARDIAN™ SUMMARY Full-time security at the loading dock often includes a removable barrier to guard the loading dock opening when a truck is not present. The Dok-Guardian Safety Barrier from Rite-Hite is designed to stop up to 10,000-pounds traveling at up to 4 miles-per-hour. It provides a four-foot high visual barrier that stretches across the door opening and can be easily seen by workers. The Dok-Guardian can be interlocked with a Rite-Hite vehicle restraint, creating a sequence of operation that prohibits the barrier from being removed until a vehicle restraint is fully engaged. Finally, it’s important to look for a dock leveler that provides the smoothest path between the facility floor and the trailer. This helps reduce “Dock Shock” or whole-body vibration to forklift operators, as well as damage to product and equipment. For example, Rite-Hite dock levelers with Smooth Transition technology reduce vibration by up to 76 percent when compared to standard levelers. The Smooth Transition design uses a constant-radius rear hinge that reduces the bumps and gaps at the rear of the dock leveler. A two-point crown control and optimized lip chamfer at the front of the leveler reduce the speed bump effect normally felt by forklift drivers as they enter and exit the trailer. In most instances, a systematic approach that incorporates vehicle restraints, barrier systems, advanced communication systems and the proper sequence of operation is the best way to secure a loading dock. These products – working together as a system – enhance the safety and security of workers, while minimizing product damage and downtime. To create a safer, more secure loading dock environment, companies are encouraged to visit RiteHite.com, or call 888-841-4283 to schedule an assessment with a loading dock professional. A Rite-Hite representative will conduct an on-site visit to analyze all aspects of a loading dock environment, including: LOADING DOCK LEVELERS • DRIVE APPROACH • LOADING DOCK DIMENSIONS • LOADING DOCK DOOR CONFIGURATION • BUILDING CONSTRUCTION (BRICK, METAL, ETC.) • WEATHER CONDITIONS (EXTREME HEAT, SNOW, ETC.) • TYPES OF TRAILERS ( SEMI-TRAILER WITH REAR-IMPACT GUARD, INTERMODAL CONTAINERS, ETC.) • WEIGHT AND TYPE OF MATERIALS BEING LOADED/UNLOADED • SECURITY AND SAFETY RISKS • ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS INSIDE THE FACILITY