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Prevent deadly ‘truck creep’ by installing vehicle restraints on loading docks

Illinois workers' compensation

Here's why every loading dock should have a truck restraint:

The average forklift weighs 9,000 pounds, three times that of a car. Failing to prioritize safety can kill dock workers if at a busy warehouse the truck disengages from the dock and the forklift tumbles into the gap.

Vehicle restraint can prevent injuries on loading docks by securing trucks to docks and is among the safety features recommended by EHS Today, an occupational safety and health magazine.

An effective method for preventing dock injuries

In 2017, there were 270,000 injuries reported in the transportation and warehousing industry. That industry experienced 819 deaths in 2017, an increase of over 7 percent, or 55, over 2016’s fatality total of 764.

Only the construction industry had more work-related deaths than the transportation and warehousing industry, with 924 in 2017 and 959 in 2016. Statistics reflect data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Over a quarter of all industrial accidents happen at the loading dock. The forklift fall-through is among the most dangerous. This can happen as a trailer is being loaded or unloaded. The momentum of the forklift can transfer to the trailer, causing the truck to move forward and separate from the dock.

The gap between truck and loading dock also can be created if the truck driver thinks loading or unloading is complete and pulls away from the dock prematurely. When the forklift leaves the trailer, it falls into the gap. The forklift driver often falls out or tries to escape, and the forklift falls on them.

How vehicle restraint can benefit companies

Using vehicle restraint can prevent injuries on loading docks. These devices are installed on loading docks and secure the truck to the dock, sometimes with hooks that exert upward pressure on the truck’s rear impact guard to prohibit movement during loading or unloading.

These restraints or "dock locks” cost from $1,500 - $4,500 depending on whether they are manually operated or electronic.

These costs might seem unattractive for a company with dozens of loading docks and forklifts. Even more discouraging, however, would be the millions of dollars siphoned by loading dock accidents and injuries to workers.

Another plus? Investing in vehicle restraint to prevent injuries on loading docks could lower a company’s insurance rates.

If the goal is to prevent a truck from moving away from a loading dock, wheel chocks are not the answer. Wheel chocks are wedge-shaped devices made of sturdy material and shoved against a truck’s wheels to prevent movement.

Various factors can make wheel chocks ineffective and lead to truck creep. A gravelly drive or wet or icy conditions can reduce the function of wheel chocks. Trucks in most cases also can drive right over wheel chocks.

Besides installing the equipment of a vehicle restraint system to bind a truck to a loading dock, another important safety feature is communication.

Communication between dockworkers and truck drivers is the key to safety in the loading dock. This communication can include lights as part of the vehicle restraint system, that signals to the driver when the truck is and is not secured to the dock.

Contact Schweickert Ganassin Krzak Rundio, LLP in Illinois today for help with cases involving dock injuries, other work injuries, and other types of workers’ compensation cases.

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