Tips for Improving Loading Dock Safety

Updated: 8/25/2021

There are always precautions one must take in ensuring a safe environment for workers, a big standard that should be taken seriously is loading bay safety. Loading docks are a convenient way for businesses to load and unload materials with most connecting directly to the warehouse or storage area. Warehouse injuries can and do occur in the loading bay, many accidents though are preventable. You can improve loading dock safety in your operation with preventative steps and proper equipment.

Common Loading Dock Safety Hazards

There are multiple potential hazards loading dock workers face on a day-to-day basis. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) highlights falling off the dock and slipping during weather conditions as major risks employees should be aware of. Other common hazards of loading dock operations are:

  • Unsecured Loads: When loading pallets or materials onto your pallet jack or forklift it is essential to worker safety to check that items are properly secured. If the load slips it can hit or fall on team members causing potentially serious injuries.
  • Departure Mismatch: Communication is key on a loading dock and team members and delivery drivers must be in sync. If a driver leaves the dock while workers are still loading or unloading materials injuries can occur.
  • Lack of Proper Equipment: Moving of materials requires the right equipment to keep loading dock workers safe and healthy. With potentially heavy loads and repetitive strain you should ensure your team is equipped with the right lift trucks for your operation.
  • Trailer Creep: With lift trucks consistently exiting and entering the truck trailer it is possible for the trailer to start to drift away from the dock, creating a hazardous gap.
  • Dock Shock: Going from the warehousing flooring to the trailer can be a rough transition. Choosing the right forklift designed for operator comfort can reduce the shock on employee’s bodies.

Ways to Improve Loading Dock Safety

Even though loading docks include expected risk factors there are steps your operation can take to lower danger potential. A few steps you can take to reduce loading dock hazards are:

Appropriate Lighting

There should be a sufficient amount of light, both in and out, of the dock area at all times. This helps in protecting workers from getting into accidents with machinery. Lighting assists in illuminating any hazards that might not be evident during evening hours. However with that being said, one should always be constantly aware of their surroundings in this type of work setting.

Related Post:   6 Tips for Safely Operating a Forklift Outdoors

Add Protection

There are certain additions that should be provided such as bumpers, mirrors and chocks. Bumpers should be placed at the end of loading dock piles, so if a vehicle or piece of machinery were to accidentally hit the pole the damage would be reduced. Mirrors should be set accordingly on the work site to give drivers the ability to see any perils that might be in their blind spot. Lastly, chocks must be accessible for drivers trying to park vehicles on site.

Training and Certification

To operate a forklift cautiously needs correct training and prior experience. Forklifts aren’t toys and shouldn’t be treated as such, they should be handled maturely and accordingly. This type of equipment should also be driven at a slow and vigilant speed.

Accidents can be easily avoided if the driver is fully attentive and aware at all times. Operators should also closely inspect loads before and after transferring them. If not checked beforehand, a casualty is more likely to occur.

A Clean Work Site

Everything should be properly stowed or located in the a designated area when not being used. Also having markings as a clear-cut indicator of where one should and shouldn’t walk to or go when work is in progress.


Docks and machinery should be inspected regularly. If something were to shift or if your dock were to sag while you are operating a vehicle it could cause a major accident on site. By being proactive about maintenance beforehand, these types of problems shouldn’t occur.

Equip Your Loading Dock Employees with the Right Lift Trucks

One of the easiest steps you can take with long-term benefits to improve loading dock safety is using the proper lift trucks. Investing in the right equipment can improve efficiency and decrease operator turnover. Here at Linde Material Handling, we know the importance of loading dock equipment and our team is here to help you find the best match for your operation. Contact us today