Iowa Workers Are at-Risk of Loading Dock Injuries

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Every year, thousands of workers sustain loading dock injuries as a result of workplace accidents. Several types of hazards are commonplace on loading docks, from large loads and congested workspaces to deafening noise levels and large trucks. With so many risks in place, it's important for employers and employees to practice extra caution and have safety guidelines in place in these environments. Workers' compensation attorneys can help injured dockworkers recover benefits to cover the financial fallout of a workplace accident.

Common Loading Dock Injuries

The following are some of the most common dangers that workers face at loading docks.

Falling Off the Loading Dock

Many workers including forklift operators, dockworkers, and truck drivers could sustain serious injuries after falling from a dock. Loading docks are intended to expedite the transference of goods, which is why they are located at a height that allows workers to easily reach semi-trailers. Typically, the height of a dock is around 48 inches, but they can be as high as 55 inches in some cases. Serious injuries often occur when dock hands or truck drivers loading or checking the trailer fall off the dock. Forklifts could also slip into the gap between the truck and the dock, particularly if the truck driver prematurely detaches the trailer from the dock.

Caught in or Between Equipment

In some cases, workers might get caught in or between pallets and forklifts. They could also become pinned between a truck's trailer and the loading dock. Another type of incident that could take place is crushing beneath improperly secured loads.

Struck By Equipment

Certain types of equipment such as falling pallet jacks or debris could injure workers. These injuries could be mild or severe, depending on the weight of the equipment and the force of impact.

Preventing Loading Dock Injuries in the Workplace

Loading dock accidents are a prevalent cause of serious injuries in the workplace. However, there are steps workers and employers can take to prevent these injuries. To help enforce loading dock safety, employees can:
  • Use wheel chocks or other vehicle restraint systems to prevent the forward movement of the trailer
  • Use gates or screens across the opening when doors are open to prevent fall injuries
  • Secure trailers to docks to prevent creep
  • Install adequate lighting in the dock area to allow for full visibility
  • Ensure the dock is clear of spills and ice to prevent slip and fall accidents
In addition to the above steps, company practices can help prevent loading dock injuries. Limiting the stack height of pallets, ensuring forklift operators have full visibility, and performing trailer inspections prior to entering can help promote workplace safety.

Determining Responsibility When Loading Dock Injuries Occur

One of the most common contributors to loading dock accidents and injuries is inadequate load safety. This often falls under the responsibility of the truck driver. Drivers need to inspect cargo to make sure it's properly loaded. It's equally important for manufacturing facilities and warehouses to ensure that loads are secure and adhere to load safety guidelines. Employers responsible for workplaces with loading docks also need to make sure safety protocols are in place and that hazards aren't present. With the proper precautionary measures and mitigation of the risks at loading docks, employers, dockworkers, truck drivers, and others can maintain a safer work environment.

Additional Articles About Workers' Compensation Benefits in Iowa

Photo of Niko Pothitakis
For the past 15 years Mr. Pothitakis has focused his practice on Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Cases. The firm has two locations, one being in Burlington, Iowa and the other in Keokuk, Iowa. Mr. Pothitakis works with many area unions and employee organizations to provide advice, assistance, and guidance as it relates to employment issues. Mr. Pothitakis provides free consultations to those with legal questions in the firm's areas of practice. In this initial meeting or conference potential clients are provided advice on their need for assistance and how they need to proceed.