Understanding Loading Bay Safety

When you think of a loading bay, what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, the first thing that comes to mind is a busy place where large vehicles are constantly coming and going. While it’s true that loading bays can be busy places, it’s also important to remember that they can be dangerous places if you’re not careful. In this post, courtesy of Transdek, we’ll take a look at some of the common dangers associated with loading bays and how to stay safe while working in one.

Common loading bay hazards

The level of risk associated with loading bays will differ depending upon the scale of operations. However there are several common hazards that almost all warehouse operatives, drivers, and site managers will see when loading and unloading in a loading bay or dock. Below are just some of the most common:

  • A drive-away. This is where the vehicle in the loading dock is moved away too early. This is likely caused by an inexperienced driver or a visiting driver who is unaware of the warehouse operations and processes. This could result in harm to the loading personnel, damage to machinery and/or goods falling from the loading bay putting others at risk.
  • Vehicle creep, as heavy goods are being loaded or unloaded, the weight of this can sometimes cause the vehicle to creep, move or jolt. Resulting in goods falling from the loading bay and potentially causing injury to others working on or near the vehicle.
  • A vehicle’s trailer may tip as a result of buckling under too much weight being placed at the front of the trailer. This is usually seen when a forklift is being used to move goods in and out of the trailer and onto the loading bay. This would result in a number of injuries and damage.
  • Slip hazards caused by water in the loading bay area. All warehouse staff can be affected by slip hazards, putting them at risk of falling and injuring themselves.

Control measures

By identifying these hazards and spotting areas which need to be reviewed in order to improve safety at a landing bay, control measures can be put in place. It is important to remember the different measures you implement will be unique to each operation, and therefore one fix will not solve all your loading bay safety issues.

Control measures for the hazards mentioned above could include:

  • Safety signs and signals such as lights to indicate when it is safe to enter and exit a loading bay.
  • Large wheel wedges to prevent the movement of wheels and to prevent the vehicle from moving while the loading process is in progress.
  • Dock levellers to bridge the gap between the vehicle and trailer.
  • Lighter load handling equipment to limit the amount of weight being placed on the trailer when loading and unloading.
  • To prevent water from entering the loading bay, various canopies, shelters, and seals can be installed. While keeping water out, these methods will also help to maintain a regular temperature within the loading bay, reducing air flow. 

With these and many other control measures implemented into your operations, your loading dock safety will be improved. But, to ensure this continues to work effectively, a review of each loading bay must be completed regularly to ensure all warehouse staff and visitors are safe and hazards are reduced.

Adam Hansen