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Addressing Forklift Risks on Your Loading Dock

National Forklift Safety Day is always in June, and it’s a good time to review safety practices in your facilities and on your loading dock. In this blog we will talk about how to identify forklift risks and what you can do to minimize common loading dock accidents.  

forklift risks

Too Many Forklift Accidents 

Along with the pallet, the forklift is a tool found everywhere goods are shipped. Its invention revolutionized shipping, in fact. Currently there are more than a million forklifts being used in warehouses and on loading docks throughout America. That many forklifts guarantees there will be accidents, unfortunately. How many accidents?

According to OSHA estimates, 614 workers died in forklift accidents between 2011 and 2017. There were also more than 7,000 injuries resulting in time off from work every year in that time period. Breaking them down by accident type, the most common fatal forklift accident involved the forklift tipping over, but of course with a heavy vehicle moving quickly, there are many other types of fatal incidents that can and do occur. 

Everyone wants to avoid forklift accidents and promote safety in the workplace. What are some practical steps you can take to avoid forklift risks? 

Steps to Take to Eliminate Forklift Risks

One way to mitigate forklift risks is to use safety barriers to stop forklifts from going where they should not, especially off the edge of open docks. If the loading dock is open but not in use, a dock impact barrier can be installed to signal to forklift operators to avoid that area. The right dock barrier operates as more than just a visual warning, however. It can stop a 10,000-pound forklift traveling up to four miles per hour in its tracks. 

Painting the edge of the dock bright yellow and installing yellow safety products can also improve visibility and awareness for workers. Pedestrian walkways should be marked using signage and painted lines. You can also install physical barriers to prevent forklifts from entering worker space. 

Rain and snow can drastically affect safe forklift operation. We get plenty of both in Michigan. This means worker training is important, and daily dock inspections are as well. Water often makes its way into facilities through the dock which can also hamper conditions. Installing dock shelters will help to keep water out as they protect the dock and the forklift from the elements when loading and unloading trailers. 

Additionally, all dock ramps should have curbs high enough to prevent forklifts from rolling off the edge while in operation. Eight inches is an adequate height for this. 

Worker training is always an essential part of workplace safety, and that’s true with forklift use as well. Repeated training, especially during the fall and winter, can prevent accidents from occurring when the weather gets more challenging. 

Installing the right dock products is crucial for safety. If you would like input on how you can make your loading dock safer for your employees and forklift operators, Beuschel Sales would be happy to talk with you. We have over 60 years of experience helping companies assess and mitigate forklift risks at their loading docks and in their facilities. Call us – we’d love to help. 

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