A loading dock is a busy, and often dangerous place to work. Because semi-trucks come in and out with heavy equipment and products moving across the floor, it poses tripping and falling hazards. But the most dangerous injuries and fatalities can occur when communication between the semi-truck driver and the loading dock worker is not in sync. Truck drivers can mistakenly leave the dock too early, while a loading dock worker is still operating a lift-truck inside the trailer, or is entering or leaving the trailer.
Here are common reasons for loading dock accidents or injuries to loading dock workers:
- The semi-truck trailer starts to leave the dock unexpectedly. This causes the lift truck which is being operated by the loading dock worker, to fall to the ground.
- Trailer creep: when a trailer moves drastically under the weight of the lift truck entering and exiting the semi-truck trailer
- The landing gear is weak or damaged and collapses, resulting in the trailer pitching forward or to the side
- The trailer pops up when the weight of a forklift entering causes it to move and drop
- Loading dock workers who operate forklifts may be injured by what is called "dock shock." From repetitive vibrations as they enter and leave trailer beds, they can experience pain or a spine injury.
What safety equipment can be used to prevent injuries?
Having safety procedures in place can help prevent accidents. In addition, having a process for communicating with semi-truck drivers can help eliminate the trucks leaving the docks too early.
Safety equipment can also help prevent the trailers from falling, moving or leaving too early. Industrial wheel-locks can help restrain the wheels of the trailer from moving. Another common tool used is an automated restraint. It mounts on the outside wall beneath the dock's opening, and hooks, extending and wrapping around the rear-impact guard on a trailer. This prevents forward movement of the trailer.
Unfortunately, even with the best safety equipment and procedures, accidents can still happen. Weather can play a factor if it is wet or slippery outside, wheel locks can slip or become damaged over time.
If you are a loading dock worker who has been injured on the job, an experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you maximize your benefits and lighten the burden of the seemingly endless paperwork for your claim. An attorney can also help answer questions specific to work injuries related to working at a loading dock, explore your options and get your life back on track after a work injury.