On October 31, 2017, a worker at a Bedford Park UPS facility was injured just before 2:00 AM after being pinned by a trailer before first respondents freed the man and transported him via airlift to a local hospital. Jennifer Cook, a spokeswoman for UPS, confirmed that the company would conduct an in-house investigation into the matter to determine the cause of the incident and take appropriate measures to prevent accidents like this from occurring in the future.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opened an investigation into the incident occurring in the 6700 block of W. 73rd St. in Bedford Park. The man’s current health condition is not immediately known.
A Widespread Problem
Accidents occurring in the trucking injury are common, especially at loading docks that can be extremely hazardous work site. The chaotic activities in a rushed environment often lead to disorder, where accidents with extremely severe injuries and fatalities occur.
Working on a loading dock exposes employees and truckers to hazardous conditions that involve:
- Forklift rollovers and crashes,
- Exposure to hazardous and toxic material spilled when being loaded and unloaded,
- Becoming pinned or crushed between the dock and approaching trucks,
- Being buried or struck by falling materials when the cargo is being stored or unloaded.
Investigated Loading Dock Accidents
The following is a small sample of serious loading dock accidents that involve crushing injuries that claim the life of the victim.
- In January 2016, a 57-year-old worker died after becoming pinned between the trailer and loading dock in suburban Syracuse New York at a tile business. Investigators believe the man was standing between the loading dock and vehicle when the vehicle began moving away from the dock to allow another vehicle to back into the same spot. Unfortunately, the vehicle was in reverse and lunged backward pinning the victim. Emergency responders transported the injured worker to the neighborhood hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.
- In September 2015, a 55-year-old trucker died after becoming pinned between the loading dock in a semi truck in southern Minnesota. The truck driver was found dead at the loading dock. Initial reports indicate that the trucker was retrieving paperwork out of the cab of the vehicle at approximately 2:00 AM when the truck rolled backward and pinned him to the dock platform.
- In November 2013, a 62-year-old FedEx dockworker suffered critical injuries after becoming pinned between the loading dock and a truck in Shawnee Kansas. The man later succumbed to his injuries. This incident was not the first fatality occurring at the same FedEx lot that year. In March 2013, a man was killed in the same parking lot from a crushing injury after falling under the wheels of the trailer.
- In August 2012, a 30-year-old day laborer was killed after becoming pinned between an approaching truck and the loading dock at a home and garden store. OSHA investigated the incident involving a victim whose job involved loading and unloading trucks at the warehouse dock. The truck backed up while the victim was attempting to climb up to the loading dock, pinning him in place and causing crushing injuries. Investigators noted that the trucker did not receive any training and was not involved in any safety program. The man died of multiple traumatic injuries caused by the crushing incident.
According to OSHA, in the late morning in February 2014, a warehouse manager was loading a Swift tractor-trailer when a trucker backed up an empty trailer to the dock and pinned a worker between the trailer and the dock. The injured victim was transported to the hospital where he later died of asphyxia due to a sustained chest injury.
Preventable Dangers at Loading Docks
Nearly every type of loading dock accident, causing fatalities and injuries, can be prevented inexpensively if the employer follows safety precautions and provides the workers with proper training. The US Bureau of Labor, through OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), provides recommendations on hiring workers to serve just as spotters when trucks are approaching the dock to load or unload their cargo. Having a spotter on each side of the vehicle who can keep an eye on anything abnormal could prevent serious accidents from occurring.
OSHA also recommends that employers develop and enforce policies requiring the truckers to honk their horn before they back up to the dock. The employee should also have some form of communication to speak with those outside the building and inside the dock on the loading platform.