Keeping safety in focus

06 October 2023

IN ANY warehouse, manufacturing facility or processing plant, the loading dock can be one of the most dangerous locations.

As a fast-paced environment with many moving parts, vehicles and the use of heavy machinery such as forklifts and delivery lorries, it’s no surprise that accidents can and do occur. 

The average facility sees workers crossing the edge of a loading dock more than 100,000 times per year, leaving many susceptible to risk and injury. However, research data shows that an estimated two-thirds of all loading bay accidents could have been prevented with equipment and technology which already exists. 

One of the biggest risks come when the delivery vehicle arrives/departs the loading dock. Early departures and the well-known incidents of ‘trailer creep’ are both recognised dangers. Addressing these dangers is Rite-Hite’s Global Wheel-Lok which is designed to secure any type of trailer to the Loading Bay. 

Traditional methods of preventing a vehicle from moving, such as wheel chocks for example, have to be placed in manually whilst also being limited in terms of both use and reliability - emphasised in more adverse weather conditions where they are in no means strong enough to prevent a vehicle from pulling away. 

Rite-Hite’s solution, however, allows the driver to simply reverse their vehicle into the bay where wheel guides slot the wheels onto the Global Wheel-Lok system. When the tyres cross the locking arm, it allows the barrier to rise while following the tyres until the trailer stops against the dock bumpers, effectively locking the tyre into place. A simple green/red lighting system illustrates to the driver and the surrounding workers when it is safe to continue. 

The Global Wheel-Lok is self-powered and only has four main components allowing it to be both reliable and simple to maintain. Capable of resisting up to 142kN of pull-out force, it is one of Europe’s only restraints that exceed the FEM Class 3 requirement. 

Forklift threats 

Open loading bays and forklifts do not go well together; 7% of forklift accidents occur when a lift truck is driven off a loading dock before it was safe to do so, or it accidentally rolls off the edge. 

Rite-Hite provides both simple and effective measures to help stop accidents like this from occurring. For example, the Safe-T-Lip Dock Levellers are equipped with an integrated, automatic safety barrier which can stop forklifts in the safest manner. 

These Dock Levellers are built for stability and ruggedness allowing them to be versatile in a range of environments. Featuring heavyweight steel profiles, their interlocking capability allows them to be combined with industrial doors, vehicle restraints and safety barriers to provide the ultimate vehicle defence.

Safety barriers 

Safety barriers are another key safety solution for open loading bays doors. Rite-Hite’s Dok-Guardian Safety Barrier serves as a highly visible warning barrier and made of PVC-coated fibreglass mesh, the Dok-Guardian is both simple and highly effective in preventing fork trucks, pallet jacks and pedestrians from falling off the loading dock. The heavy-duty, polyester restraint straps are strong enough to stop up to 30,000lbs and absorb a kinetic energy of up 18,300 Joules - that’s equivalent to a six ton forklift truck with three tons of load hitting the barrier with a speed of 7 km/h! When not in use, the safety barrier retracts inside steel posts. 

In considering your loading dock safety, there is no one-size-fits-all solution or a single piece of equipment that can solve every safety challenge. Conducting a comprehensive risk assessment and analysis of your facility to identify every possible hazard is the recommended starting point. 

Thorsten Mauritz is European marketing manager at Rite-Hite Europe.