Loading Dock Equipment Safety Inspection How To
Your loading dock is the busiest part of your warehouse. Between pedestrians, forklifts, dock doors, dock levelers, trucks, pallet trucks and other equipment, there are a multitude of potential safety issues on the dock. Follow these steps to perform routine Dock safety inspections.
Although personal injury or fatalities should be your primary dock safety concerns, accidents can also result in costly damage to products and equipment. In addition, even minor accidents can cause significant down time for your operation. And then there are the longer term costs of accidents—insurance claims, potential legal actions, OSHA investigations, and so on.
While you can’t eliminate all risk on your loading dock, you can certainly mitigate it by doing routine safety inspections. You can also reduce your costs and increase efficiency by making sure that all of your equipment is in top shape. Here are a few items to look out for:
Dock doors should be at the top of your list when doing an inspection. Doors get used constantly and there are many items that can wear out, get out of adjustment or malfunction: tracks, rollers, cables, panels and springs should be looked at regularly.
Check Track Alignment & Door Balance
When your tracks are out of alignment your door won’t open smoothly, and misalignment puts stress on the other door parts. Watch an opening and closing cycle carefully to make sure the door moves freely on its tracks.
To check door balance, disconnect the door from its opener and raise the door halfway up the track. If the door is properly balanced it will stay in place. If it’s not, it will either rapidly open all the way or come crashing down.
Check and Lubricate Rollers
Look for cracked, chipped or chewed up rollers. All rollers should be completely replaced every 5-7 years. While doing the inspection, lubricate the rollers and make sure they spin freely.
Check Safety Features
Make sure that photo eyes have a clear path and are free of dirt, oil, or any foreign objects. Check the photo eye system by sweeping an object through the beam and making sure the door raises back up when you interrupt the beam path.
Ensure the door’s reversing mechanism works by putting a solid object directly under where the door closes. Attempt to close the door. When the door touches the object in its path it should immediately reverse course and go back up.
Check the condition of all door panels. Impact from forklifts and other equipment can not only dent doors, but cause misalignment and excessive wear to other components. Damaged or dented door panels or sections should be replaced immediately.
Look carefully at the weather seals along the top, bottom and sides of the doors. Are there gaps? Do you see any that are falling off, cracking or splitting?
Improperly sealed doors allow insects, rodents and moisture through, and can adversely affect energy costs through unwanted air exchange.
Cycle any visual warning systems (stop and go lights at truck bays, forklift pedestrian warnings, etc) to make sure that all lights are functional. These systems should be inspected frequently, and any lights that aren’t working properly should be replaced immediately.
Check any exterior security lights to make sure none are broken or non-functional. Examine directional lights used for loading and unloading, as well as overhead lights on the dock.
Dock Plates, Ramps and Levelers
Take a close look at all of the equipment that bridges the gap between trailers and your dock. These deserve special attention because of the weight that they support as forklifts drive across them. Although these are heavy duty items, they do wear out eventually. Look for corrosion, dents, bends or other signs of damage.
Check any dock levelers to make sure that they operate smoothly and that moving parts are not covered in excessive oil and dirt. For hydraulic systems, look for signs of hydraulic fluid leaks.
For vehicle restraint systems that connect to a trailer’s rear impact guard, check the lever mechanism for any damage and cycle it to make sure it operates smoothly. Assess any corrosion, excessive oil and dirt or other impairment and act accordingly.
For simple wheel chocks, perform a visual inspection to make sure that the chocks are in good condition.
If you have shelters, check the curtains and overhead for cracking, peeling or any signs of deterioration. Check the extension and retraction of the shelter to make sure the mechanism is in good working order. Dock shelters are frequently victim to damage by misaligned trailers, so be sure to check the frame for any bends or warps.
Your Loading Dock Experts
The items listed above are just a start to an effective loading dock safety program. To find out more about dock safety, contact a Raymond West representative at 562-944-8067.