Safer Loading Docks Benefit The Entire Operation

Author: Dean Thorsen | PS Safety Access™

 A well-run loading dock is an invaluable part of any successful manufacturing facility or warehouse. It not only serves as a gateway for materials coming in and products going out, but it also often provides an important source of ventilation for large spaces filled with heat-generating machines and hardworking people. 

With materials continuously being placed on trucks and picked up for production, it’s no wonder that a busy loading dock can also become a hazard. In fact, about 25% of all reported warehouse injuries take place on loading docks. Most commonly, these injuries involve natural fall hazards from the edge of the dock due to its continuous exposure to the elements, moisture, oils and other trip/slip hazards. 

Loading dock safety is so important that it has prompted OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to implement a number of regulations regarding the topic. In particular, OSHA Standard 1910.28 states: 

The employer must ensure that each employee on a walking-working surface near an opening, including one with a chute attached, where the inside bottom edge of the opening is less than 39 inches (99 cm) above that walking-working surface and the outside of the bottom edge of the opening is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level is protected from falling by the use of: Guardrail systems; Safety net systems; Travel restraint systems; or, Personal fall arrest systems. (Sources: OSHA 1910.28 (b)(7) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) Duty to have fall protection and falling object protection/Walking- Working Surfaces) 

While the standard clearly states that there are four different safety options for working on elevated openings of four feet or more, working on a loading dock of that height restricts facility managers to just two: 

1. Keeping loading dock doors shut whenever trucks are not present.
2. Installing an OSHA-approved guardrail system. 

For those who work in production facilities, warm weather can be a major issue. The problem usually lies with the significant challenges of controlling environmental temperature and air quality in a building filled with machines (that often utilize fire or extreme heat), vehicles (that can create exhaust) and humans (who generate their own heat). In response, many facility managers have no choice but to leave loading dock doors open in order to provide necessary ventilation. 

However, as indicated by the OSHA regulations listed above, without the proper safety measures in place, this simple fix can result in some hefty fines from OSHA. In addition, running a chain across the loading dock opening is rarely enough in the eyes of OSHA. Unless it can be proven that installing one is impossible, some type of safety gate is generally preferred. 

Fortunately, PS Safety Access™ has designed a guardrail system that meets and exceeds OSHA’s safety requirements – and allows the door to remain open. 

EDGESAFE™ LOADING DOCK SAFETY GATEThis gate is specifically designed to effectively reduce the danger of falls from loading docks, bays or exposed edges when closed. The gate’s counterbalanced design makes it easy for truck drivers or dockworkers to single-handedly open or close the gate during deliveries. Best of all, because the gate is compliant with OSHA’s loading dock standards, facilities are able to safely (and legally) keep doors open for ventilation purposes when the gate is closed.

Let us improve the safety and efficiency of your loading dock. Contact Dean Thorsen at 877-446-1519 or