Hundreds of workers in California and around the country are seriously injured each year in accidents that take place on loading docks. This kind of workplace accident often occurs when a truck pulls away unexpectedly, wheel chocks fail or forklift trucks topple over, but there are steps that both employers and workers can take to reduce the risks. While there is no single solution that can prevent loading dock accidents, a coordinated effort that includes training workers to be aware and ensuring that safety equipment is used properly could reduce injuries significantly.
Preventing trucks from rolling
A great many loading dock accidents occur when trucks roll forward and loading workers or forklift trucks fall into the resulting gap. Automatic restraint systems that hold trucks in place are available, but they are not compatible with all trailers. Wheel-based restraints will hold any trailer in place, but they are not as effective as a dedicated solution. A combination of wheel- and trailer-based restraints offers the most safety benefits, but workers should understand how these systems work and what their vulnerabilities are.
Wheel chocks and dock plates
In addition to vehicle restraints, employers can reduce the chances of loading dock injuries by deploying wheel chocks and dock plates. Wheel chocks can help to keep trucks in place during loading, but they are not as effective on wet, slippery or uneven ground. They are also small and easy to misplace in a busy workplace. Docking plates are used when the floor of the trailer is higher than the loading dock, but they present a tripping hazard, and failing to secure them properly could make loading even more dangerous.
Filing workers’ compensation claims
Workers injured in loading dock accidents are usually entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can help injured workers make ends meet while they are unable to earn a paycheck, but dealing with the application process can be frustrating to those unaccustomed to filling out forms and gathering documents. If you are involved in an on-the-job accident that prevents you from working, an attorney with experience in workers’ comp cases could help you to complete the application paperwork and ensure that it is submitted on time and supported by medical records and other evidence. An attorney could also advocate on your behalf if your workers’ compensation claim is challenged or denied.