Loading dock workers are men and women who handle the loading and unloading of semitrucks. They are crucial to the shipping industry, which moves goods around the country.
The nature of the work and the site conditions make this a very dangerous job. These workers are at risk of suffering from injuries or even death. Keeping them safe is vital for everyone involved because an injured worker could mean that the loading dock is now short one person, which could impact daily production. In some cases, shipment unloading and loading could be delayed due to accidents.
The equipment employed to do this job can include large machinery like cranes or smaller machines like forklifts. Using these properly is imperative. One considerable risk that workers face is being run over or pinned between the equipment and another object. Also, when cargo is moved overhead, there is a risk that the items will be dropped on top of a person, which could be fatal.
The trailers that these workers load and unload must be properly secured. When safety equipment isn’t used, such as wheel chocks, a trailer can roll. This is especially common when the loading dock has a sloped surface to allow for the trailer to be placed evenly with the loading dock surface.
Loading docks are often loud places. The equipment noises can combine to pose a risk for hearing loss. Hearing protection is necessary for workers who are exposed to loud noises on a consistent or intermittent basis. Workers who wear earmuffs or other hearing protection might be at risk of missing out on auditory cues that a danger is near.
Dock workers’ job duties often involve repetitive motions. These can lead to wear and tear on joints that become evident over time. Dock shock, which occurs when a forklift operator drives over the uneven bump between a trailer and dock, can lead to repetitive motion injuries in the back. Forklifts cross the gap at a rate of around 100,000 times per year. This leaves ample opportunity for workers to face the prospect of a serious repetitive motion injury. Operating controls and heavy lifting can also lead to these injuries.
In cases of injured loading dock employees, workers’ compensation claims are usually necessary. This helps workers get their medical bills covered and to have some income if they can’t work.