Tips for Staying Safe on the Loading Dock

June 21, 2022

Tips for Staying Safe on the Loading Dock

As a truck driver, you may end up spending a significant amount of time on and near loading docks. It’s important that you observe all safety rules and regulations because workplace injuries and accidents are common in warehouses and on loading docks. Loading dock safety should be a top priority for all truck drivers. Ramps, material handling equipment, dock plates, and dock levelers all pose potential safety issues. To keep your working environment safe for you and your co-workers, it is important to communicate, wear all required safety gear, and observe all safety procedures

Do loading docks need fall protection?

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations require fall protection on any loading dock that is 48 inches or higher. If the dock door is open, dock worker protection is required. This can include a guardrail or dock safety gate to keep people from falling from dock edges

How can truck drivers stay safe from accidents at a loading dock?

There are several types of accidents that can occur at a loading dock area. Below are the most common loading dock hazards and what you can do to avoid them. 

Stay Out of the Way

Forklift accidents are common on loading docks. Machinery on a loading dock can be extremely dangerous. Loading docks have a lot going on, and with so many fast-moving pieces, there is a lot of potential for accidents. Forklifts cause over 90,000 injuries every year. They can topple, fall off edges, and knock smaller items around. Workers can even get stuck between the forklift and the pallet if they’re not careful. Pay attention, and stay out of the way of forklift drivers while they are moving freight. 

Since loads are constantly being loaded or unloaded on loading docks, workers can be struck by falling jacks or other dock equipment while they are working. Struck-by accidents are almost as common as forklift accidents. It is critical that you stay aware of what is happening around you and make sure to keep out of the way of the lumpers or swampers who are working on loading or unloading your rig. 

Restrain Your Truck

Trailer creep is a big concern on loading docks. When trucks separate from the loading dock and roll away, fall-through accidents can occur. This means a forklift can fall through the gap between the dock and the trailer, or a person could fall if they aren’t watching their step. People below the dock could also suffer injuries if something falls through the gap and strikes them. These are some of the most frequent accidents in a loading area. You should make sure your truck is restrained. Wheel chocks are an acceptable vehicle restraint most of the time, but some trucking companies may require better vehicle restraints to minimize the chances of a fall-through accident occurring. 


It is also very important to be aware of what is happening around your truck when you are backing up to a dock. Workers can be crushed between your truck and the dock if communication breaks down or if you’re not paying attention to what is going on behind your truck when you’re backing up. 

Observe Safety Signs

Slips and falls are probably the most common workplace accident in any industry. And trucking is no exception. It’s important for you to keep an eye out for signs noting a wet floor, dangerous area, or other hazards. Gates, barriers, and guardrails are there to protect you and the warehouse staff. Make sure to stay clear of any prohibited areas and wear appropriate footwear at all times to reduce the chances of you slipping or tripping while near a loading dock. 

Inclement weather can increase the chances of you slipping or tripping on a loading dock. Melted snow, ice, or even just pooled rainwater can cause accidents and injuries if you’re not paying attention or aren’t wearing the right shoes. 

Turn Your Truck Off

Carbon Monoxide may not be at the top of your mind when you’re thinking about potential hazards at a loading dock. But the truth is that poor ventilation in warehouses can quickly turn deadly. Idling trucks can release fumes that compound ventilation issues and can cause a billowing of toxic gas. Make sure to turn your truck off after docking it and while waiting for it to be loaded. 

Lift Safely

As a CDL driver, you may have to load and unload your own freight. It is critical to use safe lifting practices at all times to prevent back injuries. If you feel rushed or if you can’t get someone to help you, you may be tempted to lift something that is too heavy or awkward for one person. Not obeying all safety rules when lifting can lead to serious injury

What is the most common cause of injury at a loading dock?

Loading dock injuries can have many causes. The most common cause of injury is slipping, tripping, or falling. This can result in something as minor as a sprain to as severe as a spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, or even death. Because loading docks are not at ground level, there is an inherent risk of falling. This increases if truck drivers do not properly chock or restrain their trucks for loading and unloading. Warehouse loading docks can also have oil, water, or other liquids pooling on the floor that can cause a slip-and-fall hazard. It’s important that you stay in the designated area and obey all safety regulations. This may include wearing a hard hat or other personal protective equipment in some locations.

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