Loading docks are often hazardous areas, however a recent death of a postal worker as he walked across his workplace parking lot has spurred debate on safety measures. There seems to be large gaps in workplace safety at the Minnesota postal facility that are no doubt also issues in other similar workplaces all over the country. Providing a safe work environment should include safe passage from an employee’s vehicle to the entrance of their building and should never involve walking through a loading dock back-up zone.
Widow Hopes Her Husband’s Tragic Death Will Bring Change
On June 18, 2013, Leo Brandt parked his motorcycle in the Brooklyn Center, MN post office parking lot and headed in to begin the day. While crossing the parking lot, which is also used for mail trucks to enter and back into the loading dock area, Leo was struck by a mail truck backing up and killed from the injuries. Employees routinely have had in the past to dodge trucks in this parking lot, making it a hazardous area.
Leo’s widow Loreese was understandably grief struck by her husbands sudden and needless death. She has publicly come forward denouncing the post office for not providing a safer environment for their employees. Although Leo’s death was ruled an accident, there was no back up alarm on the mail truck that hit Leo and no safety measures in place for employees to cross the busy lot. Since the accident, the employees with motorcycles are allowed to park closer to the entrance, giving safer passage into the building.
Backing Vehicles Dangerous In Loading Dock Areas
Trucks backing into a loading dock area or just backing up in general can be extremely dangerous. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 500 people die and another 15,000 people are injured in backing injuries. On the job, many of these can happen in loading dock areas where backing is necessary and is part of the daily routine. As in Leo’s death, there are easy ways for employers to prevent these accidents, including safety measures such as:
- No walk zones. Employees and other pedestrians should not be allowed to walk in areas where trucks are backing into a loading dock area. Having a parking area next to a loading area as in Leo’s accident should never be allowed.
- Back up alarms and cameras. All trucks should be equipped with back up alarms to alert anyone in the area that a truck is moving in reverse. Cameras should be installed so drivers can see what is behind them.
- Training. All employees and drivers should be trained on safety techniques to avoid backing injuries in loading areas.
OSHA is investigating the Brooklyn Center postal facility to ensure that all equipment, work practices and employee training for safety in loading areas is being adhered to. Unfortunately for the Brandt family, no precautions now will be of any help in getting Leo back but hopefully they can help prevent future accidents from happening at this or any other facility with a dock loading area.
For more information on truck loading dock safety: