10 Tips to Improve Your Loading Dock Safety

Loading docks can be dangerous! Did you know that about 25% of all reported warehouse injuries occur on loading docks, and for each incident, hundreds of near misses occur. 1 Some causes of dock injuries include workers falling in gap between trucks and loading docks. Forklifts have also backed off platforms and fallen on operators. With these potential hazards in mind, it’s important to invest in safety measures for your loading docks. Here are 10 tips that will help keep your loading dock area safe:


  1. Confirm that locking devices are used on every vehicle at the loading docks.
Active vehicle restraint for loading docks

These locking devices include trailer restraints or wheel chocks if the vehicle does not have an RIG bar, or the trailer restraint cannot engage with the RIG bar. The most popular types of restraints are the Powerhook because they mount under the dock leveler and out of the elements. It is important to use locking devices because they prevent the truck from moving during loading and unloading. Workers can fall into the gap between the truck and the dock causing serious injury or death. Freight and equipment can also be damaged, further increasing the need for a locking mechanism.

2. Use safety tape or paint to identify walkway barriers, doorways, paring aisles and overhead obstacles.

Dock seal for a loading dock

This might seem like common sense, but it’s important to use brightly colored tape and/or paint to mark off the areas of where trucks are supposed to go, as well as direction for pedestrian traffic. Poorly marked areas can lead to confusion and potential accidents. The color yellow is preferred because it’s the international safety color indicating “warning.”

3. Use padding or guards around sharp corners and dock barricades on open dock edges to protect people from injuries.

Door Protectors in front of loading docks

4. Keep dock areas clean of debris.

Debris under dock leveler

If the area around the dock levelers is cluttered, the levelers might not work as intended, which could cause further accidents.

5. Be sure the dock plates and boards being used are designed for the loads and lift trucks.

Dockplates for Loading Docks

Dock plates and boards help bridge the gap between the loading docks and trucks. But if the load you’re rolling over the dock plate is heavier than the capacity, your dock plates could fail or get worn down over time, creating a potential hazard.

6. Return dock levelers to the stored position after being used below dock.

Docking Equipment installed in new building

When dock levelers are not stored properly in lip keepers, the levelers could potentially go below the dock level when driven on with a fork truck, causing injury.


7. Use dock seals or shelters to keep rain & snow off loading docks, which can create slippery surfaces.

Vermeer Dock Seal with an Active Truck Restraint System

Not only would dock shelters and seals prevent the docks from becoming slippery, but it’s also a more cost effective solution for heating and cooling and they prevent insects and birds from entering the building.


8. Consider investing in other dock safety items such as dock lights, bumpers, rail systems and trailer jacks.

Loading Dock Warning Lights

Dock lights are a great way to communicate with the truck drivers and dock personnel the status of the loading or unloading operation, reducing the amount of accidents. Bumpers, rail systems, and trailer jacks are also great ways to increase safety measures.


9. Work carefully around loading docks.

Worker Falling Off Loading Dock

Be sure not to run around loading docks or jump onto or off of docks. Stay away from dock edges. Also wear sturdy shoes with nonskid soles that are supportive around the foot and ankle. Take care to watch where you’re going on a loading dock.


10. Load and unload materials correctly to prevent injuries.

Forklift loading goods into the back of a truck

Forklifts, dollies and other aids should be used often instead of lifting goods by yourself. You should never try to lift skids or pallets alone. Use good lifting techniques when lifting heavy objects (bend at the knees and keep your back straight so your legs are doing the lifting). Be sure to wear snug-fitting gloves to get a good grip on items when lifting, loading and unloading.

Hopefully these tips have helped give you an idea of how to improve the safety measures around your loading docks. At Barron Equipment & Overhead Doors, we have service technicians that specialize in loading dock equipment and are able to inspect your loading docks to ensure they’re safe and effective. For an estimate, give us a call at 1-800-397-6690 or visit our service request page.

1. LoadDelivered, August 2017.