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What kind of training do loading dock workers need?

By Jessica Barrett | Last updated: February 7, 2019
Presented by AD Safety Network

The loading dock is one of the most dangerous areas in a warehouse. About a quarter of all industrial accidents happen there – and for every one of those, there are about 600 near misses (learn about 5 Simple Ways to Prevent Injuries Around Open Loading Docks).

Despite the risks, there isn’t any formal training necessary for workers to carry out tasks on the loading dock. There is, however, plenty of worksite-specific training that every loading dock worker should be well versed in.

Here are four of the most important things the training should cover.


1. Common Loading Dock Hazards and Hazard-Causing Behaviors

The five hazards most commonly found in and around loading docks can be abbreviated as FACTS:

  • Forklifts – Safety around pedestrians, dock edges, daily inspections
  • Attention and alertness – The dangers of fatigue in a fast-paced environment
  • Carbon monoxide – General awareness, what to do if the CO alarm sounds (check out 3 Ways to Manage Carbon Monoxide Risks at Loading Docks to learn more)
  • Trailer creep – Communication to ensure trailers are properly secured
  • Slips, trips, and falls – Good housekeeping practices; identifying slip, trip, and fall hazards; "safety first" behavior

Training should cover what the hazards are, why they should be taken seriously, and what to do about them. To ensure maximum compliance with safety rules and safe working procedures, workers need to understand why they matter.

2. Required PPE, What It Protects Against, and How It’s Used

Although it's the last line of defense against loading dock hazards, PPE still needs to be taken seriously. Workers should understand what equipment is required and how to use it properly. Common PPE in a loading dock environment includes hi-vis safety vests, gloves, safety boots, and eye and ear protection.

3. Keeping Pedestrians Safe

Lift trucks and trailers are common sights around loading docks, and this can be exceptionally hazardous for those on foot. Training for loading dock workers should include how and to protect pedestrians. Examples might include using barriers, effective communication methods, and tips to ensure pedestrians stay alert at all times (see A Primer on Forklift Hang Signals for more details).

4. Emergency Protocols and Procedures

All workers should understand what to do in case of an emergency. Training should include both what to do and who to talk to – communication and a clear chain of command is critical in cases of emergency.

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Written by Jessica Barrett

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Jessica is a freelance writer and editor from Toronto, Canada. She specializes in creating content for nonprofits and has written for organizations working in human rights, conservation, education, and health care. She loves traveling and food, speaks Spanish, and has two dogs, one of whom she rescued while living in Mexico.

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