Loading docks can be dangerous places. In fact, 25% of all workplace accidents occur in and around the loading dock area, with hundreds more near misses.1 However, the majority of these accidents could be avoided if facility managers take the proper precautions towards making these areas safer. Four of the most common accidents — trailer creep, early departure, theft and the truck upending — can all be avoided by installing a quality truck restraint.
What is a Truck Restraint?
A truck restraint is an essential component of loading dock safety that works by holding a truck in place during the loading and unloading process. Truck restraints are such an integral component of facility and employee safety that there are stringent regulations in place to fine facilities that have not implemented truck restraints.
How Can Truck Restraints Prevent Loading Dock Accidents?
A 2014 study by the Ontario Ministry of Labour determined that common causes of loading dock injuries and deaths include workers being pinned between loading docks and trailers, pinned between forklifts on loading docks, or struck by a moving truck. Truck restraints can partially prevent these loading dock accidents by creating a more secure connection between a truck and a facility’s dock leveller.
Most restraints hold trucks into place by grabbing the rear-impact guard (RIG) or ICC bar. As a method for improving safety and efficiency, the majority of truck restraints are also equipped with a light communication system that allows the truck driver to be in constant contact with the dock attendant.
Truck Restraints Can Prevent:
1. Trailer Creep
Trailer creep is the name given to when a truck slowly moves away from the loading dock as a result of traffic in and out of the truck, leaving a dangerous gap. Workers can easily fall through this gap during operations and pin themselves between the dock and the trailer. It can often be a very gradual process that is easy to miss in a busy, time-sensitive environment.
There are several factors that affect trailer creep, including the following:
– Weight and speed of the forklift
– The grade of the approach
– Softness of the suspension
– Whether the trailer has been dropped off or is still attached to the tractor
– Type of transition being used between the trailer and the dock (dock levelers or dock boards/plates)
Truck restraints are incredibly effective at eliminating the risk of trailer creep. Lenworth carries models like the Electric Hook Truck Restraint, which use an automatic rotating hook to secure the rear-impact guard, generating a restraining force of 32,000 lbs. This force completely stabilizes and immobilizes the truck to create a safe environment for all workers around the dock area.
2. Early Departure
Early departure is another all-too-common cause of accidents around the loading dock area. Often a result of miscommunication, it occurs when a truck driver unexpectedly drives away from the loading dock area before loading or unloading operations are complete. This can lead to potentially serious worker injuries, especially when other heavy equipment such as forklifts are involved.
However, these and other serious issues can be avoided with the simple installation of a truck restraint that secures the truck to the dock leveller during the loading and unloading process. The high-end restraining force of a truck restraint counteracts the truck’s acceleration, keeping it firmly locked in place. Truck restraints also feature a two-way light-communication system that allows dock operators to properly signal drivers when loading or unloading procedures are complete. Because facilities cannot completely prevent human error, a truck restraint is the only reliable way to guard against early departures.
Bridging the gap between the loading dock floor and the trailer bed can also help prevent against theft. By securing a truck or trailer at the dock with a vehicle restraint, facility managers can better maintain control over product in the truck because trailer doors able to stay closed until the truck is secured at the dock.
The two-way light-communication system in truck restraints acts as an added security measure because the trailer remains fully restrained and fastened until the driver and the loading dock operator mutually signal each other.
4. Truck Upending
Pop-ups and upendings can be incredibly dangerous for all workers involved, and especially for forklift operators. Truck trailers can often pop-up or upend when they are forced to contend with the weight of a forklift. Pop-ups can occur when the weight of a forklift is concentrated at the back of a trailer, causing the nose to rise. Conversely, a trailer can upend when the weight of a forklift is concentrated at the front, causing the rear of the trailer to rise away from the loading dock.
In both instances, truck restraints can eliminate both of these potentially dangerous situations. Electric hook truck restraints can guard against these types of accidents through the use of a rotating hook system. The rotating hook moves up and over the rear-impact guard, fully preventing the trailer from moving horizontally or vertically.
Truck Restraints Keep Your Facility Safe and Efficient
Loading docks are high-traffic areas that depend on safe working conditions for operational efficiency. Truck restraints can prevent loading dock accidents by keeping workers, facility equipment and cargo safe during loading and unloading procedures.
The long-term logistical benefits of installing a truck restraint far outweigh the initial investment and certainly outweigh the financial and emotional burden associated with an employee accident or injury.
At Lenworth, we specialize in preventative maintenance. We take extreme care in visiting and diagnosing facilities with the right solutions to solve their unique challenges. That is why we offer free, no-hassle consultations to answer any questions, address potential problem areas, and to help you determine the truck restraint model that will work best for your facility.
As the VP of Sales & Marketing, Spencer is an energetic and company-oriented manager that places an emphasis on continuous organizational improvement. Spencer's acute focus on building a customer-centric business drives his team to consistently go above and beyond customers' expectations. At Lenworth, Spencer places the customer as the focal point of all decisions.
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