SAFER HANDLING: Building a Safer Loading Dock

Building a Safer Loading Dock

* By Jean Feingold *

Raw materials, goods and finished products enter and exit manufacturing and warehouse facilities through loading docks. Since materials, transfer and transport vehicles and people are moving around regularly, making loading docks safer is important. The goal is to prevent injury to workers while avoiding damage to products and the building.

The Loading Dock Equipment Manufacturers (LODEM) is an MHI Industry Group. Its members are the leading suppliers of loading dock equipment. They have written the new 39-page Dock Planning 101, a guide to help facilities when installing loading docks. It is available free of charge at

The guide indicates several standards to follow in planning docks. ANSI standards MH30.1-2015, MH30.2-2015 and MH30.3-2015 cover performance and testing requirements for dock leveling devices, portable dock leveling devices and vehicle restraining devices.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently issued 29 CFR 1910.26. This requires employers operating loading docks to equip dockboards with run-off guards or to demonstrate there is no risk of transfer vehicles running off the dockboard edge. Facility operators should install necessary safeguards on loading dock equipment and train all dock personnel.

Loading dock area design

In designing loading docks, these variables must be evaluated:

  1. Truck types and sizes and trailer configurations
  2. Dock approach (driveway)
  3. Apron space
  4. Dock positioning
  5. Dock height and building structure
  6. Door size
  7. Nature of cargo

The size of transport trucks most likely to use the dock may be the most important consideration. If multiple vehicle types will visit, the dock must accommodate them all. Refer to Dock Planning 101 for more information.

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