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Loading docks are areas where trucks bring their products to warehouses and other places of business.  This is the primary location of movement of product in and out of a facility. Because of the transient nature of deliveries drivers are generally unfamiliar with the potentially hazardous areas around warehouses, industrial buildings and distribution centers.  Drivers often back into the loading dock, exit their vehicle, walk along the driveway and then proceed to a stair where they enter the building to communicate with a company's loading dock manager.  Because of the drivers unfamiliarity with the environment and operations taking place in a warehouse loading dock environments can be one of the more hazardous areas for visiting workers.


A loading dock is where trucks are loaded and unloaded. Loading docks may be exterior with no covering from the weather, flush with the building envelope or fully enclosed. The exterior area of loading docks do not typically provide direct access to will call areas, storage rooms and freight elevators.


Loading docks have an increased potential for serious injury, the following are just a few of the more common hazards that occur on and around loading dock areas:

  Forklifts overturning

  Employees being hit by forklifts and other powered trucks

  Slips, trips and falls

  Trailer separation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.22 walking-working surfaces states that “The floor of every workroom shall be maintained in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition. Where wet processes are used, drainage shall be maintained, and false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places should be provided where practicable.”  Though this may not be practical for the exterior of the building it still can be recognized as a unfamiliar place for truck drivers who must traverse from their vehicle to the entrance of the building.  Clear signage and the removal of hazards can improve a loading dock's safety.


Construction of driveways adjacent to loading docks are often made of concrete to support the weight of fully loaded trucks and to prevent compaction of the driving surface and the deteriorating of the driving surface.  For drivers traversing from their vehicle to the loading dock entrance the driveway also serves as the walking surface.  These driveways are often unmarked for pedestrian traffic.  Because every loading dock has its own peculiarities a company has to always be aware of potential hazards to workers safety. Most loading docks are raised above the adjacent driving surface with the driveway sloping down toward the loading dock.  The exterior base of the sloping surface near loading docks has the potential to create an area of water accumulation that can be hazardous to drivers. Therefore loading docks usually require complex drainage systems to prevent the accumulation of water after rain and to drain snow melt.


Greg Neffinger



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