Loading Dock Safety

Workers face many high-risk hazards in indoor and outdoor workplace shipping/receiving areas. In fact, 15 Ontario workers have died in accidents within shipping/receiving areas between January 1, 2000 and October 31, 2010.  These deaths involve workers being pinned between forklifts, pinned between a loading dock and truck o


Workers face many high-risk hazards in indoor and outdoor workplace shipping/receiving areas. In fact, 15 Ontario workers have died in accidents within shipping/receiving areas between January 1, 2000 and October 31, 2010.  These deaths involve workers being pinned between forklifts, pinned between a loading dock and truck or trailer, pinned between a truck and trailer, struck by or run over by a truck, struck by falling items that were not secured and struck by a falling dock plate.

As a result of these fatal incidents, the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Safe At Work Strategy has been focusing on the hazards in shipping/receiving areas. The  Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and applicable regulations under the OHSA will be the focus on the Ministry of Labour Inspectors’ enforcement blitz.
With the support of Ministry engineers, hygienists and ergonomists, inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

  1. Vehicles: Inspectors will check that vehicles are immobilized and secured to prevent accidental movement in any direction to protect workers within the area. Inspectors will check whether workers using dock locking systems or other securing devices to prevent accidental movement of vehicles have received information, instruction and supervision. In addition, inspectors will check whether equipment is used and maintained according to the manufacturers’ instructions, including the use of guards where appropriate and lockout procedures.
  2. Loading/Unloading: Inspectors will check for the safe use and maintenance of material handling equipment and whether workers have been trained to use the equipment. Inspectors will also check if there are any slip, trip and fall hazards, that workers are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment where needed and that workers have received information and instruction on safe manual material handling procedures.
  3. Entry/Exit of Vehicles Inspectors will check for traffic hazards associated with vehicles or material handling equipment which others can be exposed to. Inspectors will also check for hazards associated with the general work environment in both the indoor and outdoor shipping and receiving areas.

Compliments of the Ontario Ministry of Labour and YouTube

How can I ensure that our company is compliant?

Make sure your workers:

  1. Operate only the material handling equipment they have been trained on.
  2. Keep the floor and ground surfaces clear of obstructions, refuse, snow, ice or other hazards.
  3. Verify that all vehicles are immobilized and secured before working near them.
  4. Raise any concerns about falls and other hazards with the supervisor in charge.

Employers should:

  1. Provide ALL workers with appropriate information, instruction and supervision.
  2. Ensure barriers, warning signs or other safeguards are used in work areas with vehicles and material handling equipment.
  3. Ensure all vehicles are immobilized and secured before loading and unloading.
  4. Ensure all equipment in loading and unloading areas is operated and maintained as per manufacturers’ instructions.
  5. Ensure indoor and outdoor dock areas are included in monthly workplace inspections.

To report incidents, critical injuries or fatalities, call the Ministry of Labour at 1-877-202-0008. In an emergency, always call 911 immediately.

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