Reduce These 3 Common Accidents At The Loading Dock

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With the rush to deliver goods over Christmas, there was also a marked increase in the amount of reported accidents in distribution centres across the UK.

Some of the common injuries include slips, trips, falls and RSI. Unfortunately, not all injuries are fixed by a trip to the first aid room.

The number of life changing accidents also went up. These include accidents at loading docks, falls off machinery, fork lifts etc. In fact, injuries on loading docks can account for up to 25% of all reported injuries. The combination of poor weather conditions, dealing with PEAK, staffing issues etc., all contributed to this rise in accidents.

This article focuses on common accidents at the loading dock.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the transport and storage sector has a higher rate of injury than the GB average and has the second highest rate of total injuries. This is true regardless of the size of the operation. While individual routines may differ, all distribution centres use forklifts and pump trucks. There is also a potential for spillage to occur and they all have a high volume of foot traffic.

Take loading and offloading of goods to be sorted.

Many depots will allow a visiting driver to pull into the loading bay to offload freight. Confusion can ensue if the driver is left to their own devices. If the equipment is unfamiliar and the driver is in a hurry to leave to the next job, there will be an increased potential for accidents. The following are the three main hazards of the loading dock area.


When stationary, trailers can creep or move ever so slightly away from the edge of the loading bay as workers move around and as loading equipment is used. This slowly widens the gap between the vehicle and the dock leveller. The larger gap can cause the worker or goods to fall through and be injured or damaged. Some drivers try to get around this by engaging the parking brake, but that doesn’t work either. The rocking of the vehicle on its suspension is what leads to the creep.

Dock creep can also be caused by an uneven surface for the trailer’s landing legs. It is made worse if:

  • there is a difference between the height of the vehicle and the height of the loading dock.
  • the trailer is backed too close to the loading bay causing the buffers to compress and the trailer to be temporarily wedged in position. The ‘bouncing’ motion caused by the unloading can ‘shake it loose’ and lead to a sudden drop in trailer height.


The poor weather in December caused an increase in accidents due to water ingress. While most loading bay areas have a shield of sorts to protect from the elements, they are almost always made of rubber. This means they become slippery when it rains. This puts workers and equipment being used in danger of slipping. This is a particularly knotty problem, as many modern trailers are designed to have an aerodynamic shape which channels water towards the back in the loading area.


Poor judgement has also led to a number of fatalities around loading docks. A worker, trying to help a trailer driver park properly was fatally injured when they were crushed between the trailer and the dock. The cardinal rule when assisting in parking is “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.” Personnel must be visible to the driver’s mirror at all times.

Personnel must also be trained to asses the size of goods and the manpower needed to move them. A worker was injured when the palletised load they were trying to move, tipped over the lip of the trailer, pulling them to the ground with it.

The loading dock ranks high on the list of hazardous places in the warehouse, and most of the injuries here can be life-threatening. Having identified common loading dock problems, join us next week for the solutions and best practices for having an accident free 2015. SRL Limited, a leading supplier of roller shutters, encourages you to assess your warehouse environment to identify and control potential hazards.

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