What kind of PPE is required when loading and unloading a docked trailer?

Q:

What kind of PPE is required when loading and unloading a docked trailer?

A:

Workers who are loading and unloading materials from docked trailers must wear appropriate personal protective equipment to remain in compliance with OSHA standard 1910.132.

Loading docks are busy places with both pedestrian and lift truck traffic. The docks can be noisy and dusty and the loads can be heavy at times (read about the Top 5 Tips for Warehouse and Racking Safety). Being prepared with the right gear is crucial to staying safe throughout the shift. Let’s look at some of the most important PPE for loading and unloading trailers.

Safety Boots

When you’re working around heavy equipment and lifting loads, having the right safety boots is critical. The first thing that probably comes to mind is steel-toed, but there are other considerations as well. The feet have a significant impact on a person’s overall well being, and working long hours on a hard warehouse floor can cause problems like fatigue. Look for safety boots with a comfortable insole, good ankle support, and rubber soles.

Hi-Visibility Clothing

With the amount of traffic around loading docks, it’s important that workers remain visible at all times. For the purposes of loading and unloading trailers, an ANSI class 1 safety vest suffices and should be worn throughout the entire shift.

Gloves

While it might not always seem necessary to wear gloves, they serve two important purposes for workers on the loading dock. First, good gloves prevent against needless cuts or scratches from loads with rough or sharp edges. They also protect the hands from getting dry and cracked after being in contact with materials like cardboard for a long period of time.

Hearing and Eye Protection

OSHA also recommends that workers in material handling positions wear protection for their eyes. While most loading and unloading operations probably don’t require this, it’s good practice to prevent dirt, dust, and any potential flying objects from irritating or injuring the eye.

Some companies ask employees to wear hearing protection as well. With tractor-trailers coming and going and lift trucks moving around the warehouse, the environment can get loud at times (learn more in The Effects of Noise on the Body: Why Everyone Needs Hearing Protection). On the other hand, many loading dock accidents happen as a result of workers not hearing a nearby lift truck, and hearing protection may contribute to this problem. Whether hearing protection is appropriate or not depends largely on the specific situation, and businesses should evaluate accordingly.

Conclusion

Though loading docks pose a number of hazards, selecting the right PPE helps protect workers as they load and unload trailers. It can mean the difference between everyone going home safely and a trip to the doctor mid-shift, and it’s not to be taken lightly.

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Written by Dirk Seis
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Dirk has expertise in industrial business development through distribution and B2B. He's a confident public speaker with high-energy delivery and two decades of experience in training program development and execution.

He has experience with international business development across the US, Europe & South America. He's a specialist in loading dock and warehouse safety and fluent in English and German.

His other specialties include:

  • Training and motivation
  • B2B sales
  • International business development
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