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The importance of health checks for loading bays

24 November 2017

For many UK firms with distribution facilities and delivery expectations to meet, the onset of winter can mean loading bays are really put through their paces, as testing weather conditions, seasonal distribution surges, and the pressure to meet timescales combine. Thorworld Industries recommends undertaking essential checks to keep staff safe and loading bays performing efficiently throughout the coming weeks

Testing winter weather conditions, and the increased logistical demands of the festive season both play their part in applying extra pressure to equipment – equipment that is essential in keeping the flow of business moving, at a time when it really matters.

Improper servicing and lack of maintenance is considered one of the most common causes of loading bay accidents throughout the year, so a seasonal turn in the weather or flux in festive demand can naturally hit a logistical operation harder during the winter, stretching the capabilities of even relatively new loading apparatus. We therefore advise that companies operating loading equipment of any age, ensure the service log is up-to-date and that equipment is ‘winter-ready’ and suitably adapted to better accommodate both the expected and unanticipated during the months ahead.

Prevention is better than cure

By taking the time and making the investment of a relatively minor servicing expense, loading equipment can remain fully functional, downtime can be avoided, and subsequent pressure on the wider company prevented. This means clients’ expectations can continue to be met, bottle-necking doesn’t become an issue, and critically, accidents can be prevented.

We recommend that companies with loading bay facilities check records to establish whether active equipment meets the requirements of PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations), and is correctly maintained to prevent operative health and safety being risked. When arranging an inspection, ensure the task is performed by a competent person. If you’ve an employee within your workforce with the necessary credentials to execute an inspection, make sure they assess your apparatus on time. Alternatively, book an inspection, for example with a Thorworld engineer, who will certify compliancy using all current, relevant regulations, under the auspices of FEM Guidance Documents.

While winter weather is unpredictable, it is always possible that a cold snap will create disruption to those in distribution. Icy temperatures, wet conditions, snow and frost can all detrimentally affect the safe function of loading bay equipment, so by taking the time now to perform maintenance and safety checks and attend to existing wear and tear, the likelihood of equipment functioning safely throughout the season significantly increases. Furthermore, the price of a service can be comparably less than the cost of a major emergency repair.

Consider flexible options designed to make winter weather working conditions less challenging for operatives in the loading environment. The addition of seals and shelters can help create a safer loading area; while improved, clearer signage, and the add-on of accessories such as traffic lights, alignment curbs and dock bumpers, can all help play their part in preventing human accident and equipment damage.

Short-term solutions

If possible, research the upcoming needs of your loading and unloading area, and the amount of traffic you expect. Be ready to cope with any additional delivery load by putting appropriate short-term solutions in place before activity ramps up. Apparatus such as a ‘Rent-a-Ramp’ from Thorworld can prove useful in facilitating increased capacity, while investment in cost effective accessories such as Dockplates or Dockboards, can prove beneficial during busy periods, as these highly mobile accessories can be brought into play to enable safe, anti-slip and efficient manoeuvre of fork trucks, pallet trucks, sack trucks and roll cages, while also providing safe pedestrian access. 

Operating an effective, well-serviced loading bay ensures equipment compliance, resolves functional issues and improves user safety, while minimising the potential for downtime, and maximising delivery efficiency.