How often should I inspect a loading dock?

Q:

How often should I inspect a loading dock?

A:

Loading docks can be dangerous places. In fact, about a quarter of all reported warehouse injuries occurring on loading docks. The causes of dock accidents vary, but regular inspections can minimize or eliminate hazards and keep loading dock operations running smoothly (check out 5 Loading Dock Catastrophes to get a sense of what can go wrong).

There’s no set rule for how often to inspect your loading docks. There is, however, plenty of evidence that suggest regular dock inspections and maintenance will help you identify small problems before they become big ones. With that in mind, you should perform three different kind of loading dock inspections, each at a different interval.

1. Daily Inspections

This type of inspection looks at the day-to-day operations that take place at the loading dock and ensures it's a safe place to work.

Daily inspections should check on things like:

  • General housekeeping on the dock (find out Why Housekeeping Is An Important Part of Loading Dock Safety)
  • Doorways and walkways are free of obstructions
  • Items are stacked safely so they won’t fall
  • Workers are using proper lifting techniques
  • Proper equipment is being used to prevent trailer creep
  • Material handling procedures meet all relevant requirements (e.g. materials are at least 18” below sprinkler heads)

2. Quarterly Inspections

Quarterly inspections are a bit more in-depth than the ones performed daily. The types of things you'll confirm during your quarterly inspection include:

  • Hand and guardrails are in good condition
  • Stairways, steps, and ramp surfaces are well maintained and in good condition
  • Equipment used on the dock is in good working condition
  • The dock area has proper lighting and signage
  • Bumpers are in good working condition and show minimal wear

3. Annual Inspections

The yearly inspection should look at "bigger picture" items, such as whether the dock levelers are functioning efficiently and whether dock seals are in good condition and offer a tight fit. It's also a good idea look for new hazards and opportunities for improvement.

The annual inspection is a great time to host a loading dock safety refresher for employees.

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Written by Jessica Barrett
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Jessica is a freelance writer, editor, and communications consultant. After starting her career in the travel industry, she branched out on her own in 2016 and hasn't looked back since. Jessica is a regular contributor to several websites and works with numerous small businesses and NGOs around the world to craft content for both online and offline platforms. When she isn't writing, you might find her practicing yoga or adventuring (aka eating) her way through a new country.

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