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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Loading dock accidents can be incredibly dangerous and lead to serious injury or death for workers, customers, and passersby. There are multiple hazards associated with loading docks that must be carefully managed to avoid an accident occurring.

Common sources of danger include incorrect operation of heavy machinery, failure to maintain the loading dock properly, and unloading trucks in a hazardous manner. Companies should implement safety protocols to reduce the risk of a loading dock accident.

Were you injured in a loading dock accident caused by someone else’s negligence? The truck accident lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Contact our Chicago loading dock accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form for additional information or to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

chicago loading dock accident lawyers

Truck Loading Dock Injuries

Loading docks are an essential part of the supply chain, but they can also be dangerous work environments. With moving trucks, tight workspaces, heavy loads, and inclement weather conditions, loading dock separation accidents can cause serious injuries to workers.

Common loading dock incidents include slips, trips, falls, and collisions. Poorly maintained equipment or inadequate safety protocols can increase the risk of these accidents.

When a loading dock accident does occur, victims may be entitled to compensation for their losses. An experienced attorney can help victims understand their rights and pursue a claim against any negligent parties who may have contributed to the accident.

By understanding the risks associated with loading docks and taking proper precautions, workers can reduce their chances of being injured in an accident.

Accidents on Loading Docks

Loading dock accidents are common when transferring products between warehouses and trucks. Slips, trips, and falls are the most common loading dock events, but improper equipment maintenance, inadequate safety measures, and human error can also be potential causes.

Every year, 94,750 forklift-related injuries are reported, with 7% of those occurring when a lift truck is driven off a loading dock. OSHA has issued directives and interpretations that allow alternatives to prevent trailer/dock separation.

Two common causes of loading dock separation accidents include:

  • Trailer creep and early departure which can be avoided with proper safety precautions.
  • Trailer pop-up and landing gear collapse can also cause loading or unloading accidents

To help ensure safety, vehicle restraints secure semi-trailers to the loading dock while Rite-Hite offers a complete visual communication system for operators.

Fall Accidents

Falling accidents are serious hazards in the workplace, particularly when working on docks. Loading dock heights are typically around four feet but can be up to 55 inches. When someone falls from this height onto the ground, they can suffer serious injuries or even death.

Forklifts falling off the dock between its edge and the back of a truck can also cause serious injuries to those on the ground.

Caught in or between accidents can occur when a worker is caught between two objects, such as a pallet and a forklift. These types of dock/truck separation accidents can also result in severe injury or death.

OSHA Loading Dock Regulations

Loading docks are an essential part of any warehouse, but they can also be dangerous if not properly maintained. OSHA [1] has established regulations to ensure that docks are safe for employees and visitors.

These regulations include driving forklifts slowly on docks, securing dock plates to prevent trailer separation during an aggressive pullout, and providing visual warnings near dock edges.

Additionally, truck drivers should not use chains as a safety measure at the dock’s edge as they need to be stronger to withstand the daily wear and tear. Instead, safety netting such as racking and rack netting should be installed along inventory shelves for added safety and wheel chocks.

Adhering to OSHA regulations is essential for protecting employees and forklift operators from potential dock separation accidents or trailer tip injuries while working in a warehouse environment.

Ways to Prevent Loading Dock Accidents

Loading docks are an integral part of the US freight network, facilitating 17 billion tons of goods in 2020. However, warehouse safety is a major factor to consider when forklift operators manage docks and large trucks.

In 2020, over 200,000 reported warehouse employee injuries resulted in missed work days and downtime. Falls and trailer separation (aggressive pullout away from the dock) are the most common industrial accidents, with 27 incidents per 10,000 full-time workers.

Over 9,000 nonfatal forklift accidents were reported in 2019 when the truck driver mistakenly drove away from the dock. These dock separation accidents caused by failing to use fixed jacks and wheel chocks can involve:

  • Trailer creep
  • Trailer up ending
  • Forklift falls
  • Tractor trailer damage

Industrial dock separation accidents can result in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) [2] investigations as well as workers’ compensation and downtime. These accidents can occur when transferring products between warehouses and trucks.

Accidents happen when dock workers and truck drivers fail to follow safety guidelines, including:

  • Use wheel chocks on the rear wheels
  • Follow load safety protocols when using powered industrial trucks
  • Use powered industrial trucks when moving wooden pallets
  • Avoid a trailer tip sideways hazardous condition from a landing gear collapse
  • Prevent accidents with lift trucks when loading or unloading cargo onto steel racks
  • Use vehicle restraints to avoid early departure when a truck driver pulls away from the dock unexpectedly
  • Follow protocols when working around parked highway trucks

Common types of loading dock accidents include slips, trips, falls, and collisions. Poorly maintained equipment or inadequate safety protocols can increase the risk of loading dock injuries.

Implement Employee Training

Employers must take extra steps to ensure safety in the loading dock area. Preventing accidents includes complying with OSHA regulations and providing proper training for employees.

Training is essential to identify potential hazards, avoid forklift accidents, and understand basic warehouse safety. Educated employees make smart decisions, so it is important to implement effective safety training when working in and around a semi-trailer.

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney Specializing in Loading Dock Accidents

Are you an injured worker hurt on a loading dock due to someone’s negligence?

Contact our workers’ compensation lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC by calling (888) 424-5757 or using the contact form to schedule a free case consultation.

We can file a claim to ensure you receive maximum compensation and benefits for your damages, including medical expenses and lost wages.

Resources: [1] OSHA, [2] OSHA

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