There are plenty of hazards on the road that truckers have to be highly aware of, but the risks don't stop once they pull off the nation's highways and byways. There are also several things they should be cognizant of once they arrive at a loading dock, because mistakes they (or others) make can have potentially disastrous consequences.
The following are just some of the ways truckers can more effectively protect themselves and others on and around the loading dock:
1) Start by backing in safely
Being able to handle a big rig in tight spaces is what separates truckers from drivers on the road, but even the most experienced and cautious hauler can find themselves in tight situations from time to time, according to Industrial Technologies. Ideally, you will be backing in on a straight line, and if a particular parking lot seems tricky, you should get out of the truck first to better understand the geometry, then ask for a spotter to come help.
2) Securing the truck
Once you have backed into the dock safely, it's time to make sure the truck isn't going to shift while it is being loaded or unloaded, Industrial Technologies said. That means chocking the wheels, ensuring your "landing gear" is in good shape, and fully attaching the dock plate. Once you've done that, you should double-check that all these safety measures were deployed properly.
3) Make sure the dock plate can handle sufficient weight
Speaking of dock plates, they are not necessarily all created equal, according to Atlantic Training. As such, the one you might use may not be rated for use with the weight of the pallets or other items you are unloading. If not, you may have to come up with a different solution to load or unload safely. However, you cannot afford to risk it with a plate that is not recommended for the weight in question, as a failure here can be severely injurious.
4) Visually assess the dock area
Once you're sure the dock plate is secure and able to handle what you're about to do, have a look at the rest of the area around the loading dock, Atlantic Training added. Take the full measure of the space and mentally note any hazards. Can you do something to mitigate them? If so, do them. If not, proceed with caution.
5) Watch out for slip, trip and fall risks
The biggest hazards in most workplaces are employees or visitors slipping, tripping and falling, because it doesn't have to be a big drop to cause serious injury include strained muscles and broken bones, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Of course, on the loading dock you may also fall from greater heights if you make a misplaced step or aren't paying attention. With that in mind, you need to be highly aware of where you're walking at all times.
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