The Safe Shop

From the


Cargo Dock Safety

Don't Fall Into the Ignorance Gap

Warehouse accidents result in personal injuries, damaged equipment and destroyed inventory. Accidents are caused each year when a truck or trailer rolls away from the dock because no one took time to chock the wheels. In some cases, drivers were crushed by their own rigs after getting out of the cab. In other cases, lift-truck drivers were injured when the forklift fell between dock edge and a trailer that moved away. The most-common warehouse accidents involve forklifts and manual material handling.


The forklift is a very important mechanical device in the stone industry. It can also be one of the most-dangerous if not properly used. Statistics show that forklifts are involved in only about 1% of lost-time accidents, yet they account for about 10% of the serious injuries.

The following incidents demonstrate the hazardous potential of this machine: • A forklift strikes a pedestrian. • A load falls on a pedestrian or the driver. • A forklift falls between a trailer and dock or off a truck. • A forklift turns over. The key to forklift safety rests with the operator. The abilities to anticipate hazards and concentrate on the task at hand are as important as operating expertise. Don’t be complacent! Prevent traffic incidents while operating the forklift by using the same safe practices that apply to traffic driving. Observe the rules regarding speed, maneuvering, loading and unloading. Keep arms and legs inside the guard and wear the seatbelt. The seatbelt will keep the operator inside the forklift in the event it tips over. Odds are against jumping clear! Unfortunately, too many people have tried… unsuccessfully.

Dock Plate

The dock plate has potential for causing accidents every time cargo is transferred between a trailer and the dock. Damaged plates should not be used. Check for cracks. Report missing or broken curbs. Makeshift plates should never be used, not even for a one-time job. Make sure the plate is properly anchored in place before loading or unloading.


The trailer can also contribute to an accident. The impact of lift trucks moving in and out can cause the trailer to inch away from the dock. Trailers should be chocked and frequently checked to insure they have not shifted. Jacks should be placed to prevent a tipping hazard when the trailer is parked.


Visitors and employees in the warehouse must stay clear of moving loads. Forklift operators must keep the truck and cargo clear of all pedestrians. Palletized (or clamped or slung) cargo can topple or break when it is being picked up.

Be aware of maneuvering space. The rear end of the forklift swings in a circle around the front wheels that support most of the load. The operator must check that there is room for the rear end to swing when making turns. Stay clear and give the equipment plenty of room to operate.

Manual Material Handling

Before attempting to lift, move or shift heavy items in the cramped confines of a trailer, assess the situation. Ask yourself - is assistance required from a co-worker? Is mechanical assistance from a forklift necessary? Without assistance, personal injury or damaged cargo could be the result.

Stay Alert. Stay Alive. Don't be trapped into having an accident.

From the OSHA Files

At approximately 11:00 am, Employee #1 was operating a forklift while loading a truck at the loading dock. As he was backing the forklift from the end of the truck, the truck rolled forward and the forklift fell off the back of the truck into the space between the truck bed and the loading dock.

Employee #1 was pinned between the forklift and the loading dock. He sustained crushing injuries and was killed instantly. The truck had not been chocked to prevent any possible movement away from the dock.

OSHA Inspection Results

Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970: The employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees in that

employees were exposed to crushing injuries in the event of a forklift tip-over accident because of lack of restraint devices and chocking procedures while loading or unloading trucks and trailers.

OSHA Recommendations for Accident Prevention

• Among other methods, one feasible and acceptable abatement method to correct the hazard would be to chock, restrain, or block the tires of the vehicle, thereby limiting the vehicle’s movement. Another means of abating this hazard would be to install seatbelts and require the use of such on all forklifts which contain an overhead guard.

This case is representative of injuries caused by improper work practices. No special emphasis or priority is implied nor is the case necessarily a recent occurrence. The legal aspects of the incident have been resolved, and the case is now closed.

Loading Dock Safety & Health Checklist

Accidents are caused each year when a truck or trailer rolls away from the dock because no one took time to chock the wheels. In some cases, drivers were crushed by their own rig after getting out of the cab. In other cases, lift truck drivers were injured when the forklift fell between dock edge and a trailer that moved away. This checklist is provided in part by the Workplace Safety and Health Division of the Government of Manitoba.


Are exposed or open loading dock doors and other areas that employees could fall 4 feet or more or walk off should be chained off, roped off or otherwise blocked? Are dock approaches free from potholes or deteriorated pavement? Are dock bumpers in good repair? Are trailer positions marked with lines or lights for accurate trailer spotting? Are tractor and trailer parking brakes fully engaged? Is the sliding axle assembly locked? Are trailer wheel chocks used to block trailers and prevent movement during loading and unloading operations? Are there two trailer wheel chocks for each trailer? Are trailer wheel chocks chained to the building? Are warning signs or warning lights in use? If dock levelers (dock boards, bridge plates, etc.) are used, are they in proper working order? Is the leveler or dock plate capacity adequate given typical load weights, lift truck speeds, ramp inclines, and frequency of use? Are dock workers trained in the proper use of dock levelers or bridge plates? Are dock boards (bridge plates) properly secured when loading or unloading from dock to truck? Are safety talks held with dock workers on a regular basis? Are dock workers trained to secure loads for transport?

Other Recommendations (Oregon FACE Program Publication Date: March 2013 OR 2010-06-1) Drivers should fully engage tractor and trailer parking brakes before leaving their cabs. Wheel chocks must be used to secure trailers and tractors against inadvertent movement, especially when parked on a slope. Confirm that the sliding axle assembly is locked prior to working in or around a trailer. Do not work or stand in pinch points where vehicles could move or roll. Employers should ensure that workers are trained to operate the controls of rental equipment prior to use, especially key components such as locking mechanisms and brakes. Employers should periodically monitor worker performance to ensure appropriate and adequate safe operating procedures are being used. While current options for automatic axle locking and braking mechanisms are limited, employers should seek out built-in protective features, such as automatic locks and brakes, when renting or purchasing equipment.

Reminder: Safety is the responsibility of both management and employees!


The information herein is provided by the Natural Stone Institute as a general summary for use in job site toolbox talks and is provided to augment and not substitute for or replace required training under any applicable local, state or federal workplace statute, law or regulation. It is the user’s responsibility to ensure this content is consistent with job site requirements and applicable statutes, laws or regulations prior to use and make any required additions or changes.

For More Information

The Natural Stone Institute


Oberlin, Ohio