If your company’s facilities have a loading dock, you know that winter presents challenges like no other time of year. Yes, it can be hard to keep workers and products protected from rain or heat, but cold, snow, and ice make things dangerous and unpredictable in a variety of ways. How do you reduce ice and snow at the loading dock and protect your workers from harm or injury?
Winter Weather Dangers
There are at least two ways that ice and snow cause the loading dock to be a less safe place. The first is mechanical. When the parking lot, ramps and stairs, and the loading dock get covered with ice or snow, it makes them difficult to navigate. Snow acts as a barrier to movement. Trucks slide, forklifts skid, and workers slip in the snow. There are several ways to prevent these kinds of accidents.
Ways to Reduce Ice and Snow
Shoveling and clearing – Parking lots should be cleared often, and ramps, stairs, and sidewalks should be shoveled. It’s easy to dismiss small amounts of snow as inconsequential, but a thin layer of either snow or ice can be treacherous to walk or drive on. Fluctuating temperatures will cause snow to melt and refreeze into the more dangerous form of ice unless you keep the area shoveled.
Snow also will affect the ability of mechanical equipment to operate, so dock levelers should be kept clear of snow. Make sure to pile any removed snow far away from doors, exits, and driving routes. In Michigan snowbanks only grow bigger and bigger until spring finally arrives. If they are not located far away from the loading dock, they will become a problem.
Salting – Shoveling will remove the physical barrier of snow, but salting will melt ice and create traction that makes it harder for people and vehicles to skid on. When warmer weather comes, make a point to wash off any remaining salt to keep it from damaging concrete or corroding metal surfaces.
Placing mats – Mats help keep snow from being tracked inside where it will melt and make floors slippery. Use them wherever they are appropriate.
Closing doors – You will want to keep all of your doors closed even when it causes delays or hassles, not just to lower your energy bills, but because heat loss can cause ice to build up around entrances.
The second way snow and ice decrease safety is because they dampen the senses. People deal with cold weather by putting on more clothing and covering up. Wearing additional clothing, hats, and mittens make it harder for people to see, hear, or carry things. Heavy boots make it harder to walk.
When snow is falling, workers’ vision and visibility are impaired. That means anyone walking or operating machinery is at more risk for an accident. Increasing visibility by installing safety lights around the loading dock or other entrances makes an accident less likely. And make sure to brush off any lights or visibility strips when new snow falls.
Winter makes things harder, but we in Michigan have learned how to deal with its challenges. It is important to reduce snow and ice on the loading dock and around your building to make the environment safer for workers. There are products available that can help. If you would like to talk about the high quality safety products we offer to our customers, call Beuschel Sales today.