Employee safety is paramount in every industry and a major concern for logistics operations. This is especially true when dealing with high customer demand and new employees. Risky areas, such as the loading bay, pose particular challenges.

According to Great Britain’s health and safety body, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there are 13 fatalities and 26,000 non-fatal injuries per year within the UK transportation and storage industry. The loading bay is very dangerous, with many accidents happening there.

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Logistics company employee preparing to safely load a flatbed trailer by inspecting the cargo they will transport on a truck

escalating safety concerns

The transportation sector has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. Consumer demand has accelerated across industries, with world trade in goods and services amounting to US $22 trillion in 2020.

At the heart of every logistics operation lies the loading bay. With many new drivers and packers joining the logistics industry, it is crucial for employers to understand the challenges of handling goods safely during loading and unloading. They also need to meet the growing demands.

Of course, this is a highly regulated industry: logistics operations must adhere to strict health and safety regulations. But a good working environment is also key to employee morale, which is a crucial factor in retention.

With higher than usual levels of staff turnover, ensuring everyone understands the dangers is vital. It is crucial in workplaces with heavy machinery and dangerous materials to ensure the safe movement of big items. Accidents can easily happen, especially in the loading bay – so how can businesses identify and mitigate these risks?

what are the risks?

With the economic cost of workplace injury being estimated at more than £800m. The challenge for logistics operations is the diversity of both the risks and causes of injury.

For example, falls off the edge of the dock can be a result of slippery floors, a lack of safety barriers or distractions. Heavy machinery can fall forward if wheels are not properly chocked. And poor communication from drivers – or engines left on during the loading process – can also lead to injury. In addition, these procedural errors can create other dangers, such as gaps opening between vehicles and loading bays.

Organisations can reduce risks by implementing strong safety practices in the loading area, starting with identifying dangers.

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risk analysis

A comprehensive risk analysis is essential. Indeed it is a legal requirement. This robust process should determine the specific threats within the organisation’s loading bay(s).

Taking a walk around the space and considering what employees will be doing day-to-day can quickly highlight potential dangers. Are floors kept clear? Are there any electric cables above, and if yes, is there a risk of electricity passing through machinery, loads, or people?

It is also important to review recent health and safety incidents to identify particular problems that are occurring. This helps to understand the risks from an employee perspective.

What tasks are they struggling to complete safely? Are the same injuries occurring frequently? Forklift trucks are always a big worry. They cause about 25% of all accidents at work involving transportation. 

After identifying safety problems, the next step is to implement mechanical solutions for safety such as warning signs, training, and electrical safety.

loading and unloading processes

Using specialised loading solutions can improve workforce safety by reducing injuries caused by equipment like forklift trucks. Examples of these systems include products like our manual loading solutions such as the skate & track loading system and pneumatic rollerbeds. Both of these systems streamline loading and unloading processes while increasing efficiency and safety through the removal of forklift trucks and reduction in labour. Additionally, our specialist shipping container lifting systems can also improve the efficiency of operations while ensuring safe lifting and lowering.

Installing safety fences around the loading dock will keep people away from the mechanisms when it's in use. For higher docks, installing handrails along the length will ensure that workers are safe and cannot fall. When stacking pallets on top of each other, one of the products may overhang, posing a risk. To prevent problems, sensors are connected to detect issues such as these overhangs before loading the trailer, prompting the operator to fix the load.

Logistic company employees in a warehouse planning process improvements to increase operational efficiency and reduce costs

safety starts with employees

Human error is one of the main causes of injury in loading bays and other areas of logistics facilities. Indeed, one employee’s mistake can make the entire environment unsafe. To avoid injury, organisations must provide staff with the right training, including the correct use of equipment and safe behaviour.

Regular training and education for employees working within the loading bay should cover a range of issues. This includes the prevention of chronic or acute injury through incorrect lifting methods; the correct way to secure cargo when loading; and the safe removal of secured cargo when unloading the truck.

Good signage is also important to support employees as they move around the loading bay. For example, marking ‘danger zones’ ensures individuals know where to go, such as avoiding loading dock edges.

Signage helps to direct traffic flow correctly, too. More signs telling drivers to switch off engines are important to prevent toxic carbon monoxide from accumulating in the loading bay. Putting weight limit signs on loading bay equipment will remind employees of the limits and prevent dangerous overloading.

Additionally, it is worth reminding people that loading bays must remain tidy and clear of hazards at all times. Tiny packaging can cause machines to get stuck and trip. Even small spills can have big consequences, especially oil spills that need special care.

Experienced individuals may not believe additional signs are necessary. However, it is crucial to provide clear and up-to-date information to the numerous new employees in the logistics industry. It will help to improve safety and, equally important, add confidence and boost morale for new members of the workforce.

The Benefits Of Installing A Loading Dock Planning Your Loading Dock

benefits of a safe loading bay

Efficient loading bays are core to the success of any logistics operation. But these hubs of activity can be extremely hazardous. Every business must prioritise health and safety by enforcing strict safety measures and providing timely training to all staff.

The benefits are tangible: a safe and healthy workforce is an efficient and happy workforce. Creating a good work environment boosts employee morale, which helps keep them happy and makes them more productive. This leads to meeting customer demand and building a happy customer base.

Lightening Loads Around the World

introducing Joloda Hydraroll

We understand the role our loading solutions play in optimising operations across industries around the world. With over 60 years of experience, we have established ourselves as global leaders in loading solutions.

We showcase our meticulous attention to detail throughout our manufacturing processes and how we have adopted ground-breaking technologies in the pursuit of innovation, which makes us the preferred choice for some of the world's largest companies looking to improve their loading processes.

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we offer free loading assessments

Wondering if a loading solution is right for your warehouse, factory, or business?

We'll call to arrange a convenient time and date to visit your site. We'll analyse your logistics operations, assessing how goods/pallets are loaded and unloaded. Our design experts will work out how best to safely, efficiently and transport loads from the end of production lines into trailers. Next, we'll design you a comprehensive loading solution that can streamline your logistics processes and send this you to via email.

We'll do all this to ensure we fully understand your product loading and unloading requirements and help lighten your load!

Request your FREE, no-obligation loading operations site assessment today!

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