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Basic precautions can prevent loading dock accidents

In most warehouses in and around Allentown in Pennsylvania, the loading docks are typically hives of activity. If you work in a distribution center or another type of warehouse, you will be a part of many activities that happen simultaneously and involve a lot of people, each with his or her task to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. At the same time, forklifts and other mechanized equipment move about, exacerbating the hazardous environment.

There is no shortage of workplace injuries in loading docks, and safety authorities say most of them happen in areas which lack proper housekeeping. Keeping loading docks organized and tidy can limit falls caused by slips and trips, along with other on-the-job injuries.

Slip and trip hazards

Traumatic brain injuries might result if you strike your head against a hard object during such a fall. The most significant risk is clutter, which is a common problem in busy work environments. Bits of wood from broken pallets, discarded cardboard, banding, production materials and shrink wrap are likely par for the course in your loading dock.

You and your co-workers can prevent injuries by doing the following:

  • Remove all clutter and discarded materials immediately, instead of letting it accumulate throughout the shift.
  • Do not wait for recycling bins and trashcans to overflow before emptying them.

Spending a few minutes on housekeeping throughout the shift could avoid years of suffering caused by a preventable fall accident.

Stacked and dumped hazards

An essential part of housekeeping is to have allocated storage places for everything. If you neglect to use proper storage, you will create hazardous stacks that could topple or clutter that could cause trip hazards. The following housekeeping steps are crucial:

  • Practice safe staking techniques by packing heavy boxes underneath lighter loads and avoid boxes sticking out from pallets.
  • Put tools and equipment on designated wall-mounted shelves, hooks and other organizational systems.
  • Keep at least 18 inches of clearance between sprinkler heads and the tops of stacks.
  • Ensure that designated stack areas do not block access to safety equipment, exit signs and emergency exits.
  • Avoid dumping odd items in corners where they could cause trip hazards.

Pre-shipment stacking typically happens in the loading dock area in preparation for the loading process and rushing this could cause hazardous stacks that could topple onto you or your co-workers.

Damaged and slippery working and walking surfaces

Damaged surfaces only exacerbate slip-and-trip hazards. The following steps can mitigate these risks:

  • Report uneven, broken or cracked surfaces immediately.
  • Do not delay cleaning up spills, and cover grease and oil spots with absorbents before mopping them.
  • Do not let snow, ice or rain accumulate in the loading dock area.

Frequent sweeping and dusting will clear the area of dust, granules, powders and small objects.

Finally but just importantly is proper lighting, which is crucial in loading docks, and neglecting to replace blown bulbs can cause unnecessary risks.

Are you a work accident victim?

You can pursue financial assistance through the Pennsylvania workers' compensation insurance program. Legal counsel can help with the administrative and legal steps of the claims process for benefits to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. If your injury caused permanent disability, your lawyer might secure additional benefits.

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Whitehall, PA 18052

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