This year nearly 100 industry workers will be fatally injured and 95,000 will be injured while operating industrial trucks like lift trucks. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), many of these accidents will occur on warehouse docks. Whether caused by lift trucks backing off docks, trailer creep or by early departure, many warehouse dock accidents could have been prevented. This is why using the proper dock equipment like dock plates can increase your warehouse’s safety and performance.
Dock plates are ideal for managing the space or gap that often occurs between the dock and truck trailer. Manufactured with steel and diamond deck aluminum, dock plates are metal ramps that bridge this gap between truck trailers and warehouse docks. Dock plates can be easily setup by one person because they are lightweight and portable. A dock plate’s diamond outline prevents oil, debris and snow from settling on the metal plates and also provides good traction for work boots and pallet jack wheels. Though strong enough to support up to 12,000 lbs., dock plates are only used with manual material handling equipment like platform trucks, hand trucks and pallet jacks.
One of the safest ways to use a dock plate is to identify the exact weight of the load to be elevated and add it to the material handling equipment’s weight. From here a dock plate with a greater weight carrying capacity than the amount calculated should be used. Such calculations are also a helpful way to avoid overloading workers. Because workers get busy or sidetracked, they can forget to make such calculations. For this reason, dock plates that are more powerful than the entire loading material should be used.
Calculating the width and height of a dock plate is also an important part of maintaining safety in your warehouse. You can calculate the width of a dock plate by adding 8 inches to the combined width of handling equipment and load. For example, most pallets are 48” X 40” wide. Adding 8 inches to its width, the dock plate size comes out to 48 inches. This is useful calculation for hand trucks and pallet jacks. When it comes to calculating length, it gets trickier. A dock plate’s maximum height differential is the maximum height variation between the loading dock and the truck floor. Shorter boards are only useful with specific elevations while longer boards will be useful for a wider variety of elevations.
The fewer the number of accidents on dock warehouses, the fewer the number of insurance claims to be paid. It’s important to have all equipment maintained according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Lift trucks, dock plates, vehicle restraining devices, dock doors and seals and automatic signaling devices should not be overlooked or taken for granted. Dock mounted lights in addition to the spotlights on lift trucks are an essential part of maintaining dock safety as is keeping the dock area clean and free of debris. When safety procedures are in place and followed, accidents are decreased and so is the cost of repairing and replacing damaged pieces of equipment. The profit margin for many companies is directly related to dock loading safety.