Warehouse Safety Starts with a Dry Loading Dock
In a manufacturing, distribution or warehouse facility there are few places more dangerous to pedestrians than the loading dock area. These dangers can include forklifts racing in and out of truck trailers, open doors that lead to drops to the driveway below and even stacked pallet loads can be hazardous to foot traffic. Perhaps the worst among these threats are slick dock floors.
Statistics point to the loading dock as being a danger zone, where it is estimated 25% of accidents leading to injuries occur. And the costs of these types of injuries can quickly add up. In 2007, the Liberty Mutual Safety Index revealed that these kinds of incidents cost the material handling industry $6.6 billion annually.
The problem is that there can be up to hundreds of doorways along the typical loading dock, each typically 8’ x 10’ holes in the wall. These doors can permit moisture to enter the area to mix with dirt, debris and oil creating a dangerously slick surface.
Dock doors - ensuring a closed case. Doors are often the first to suffer damage from the fast-moving forklifts in the confined dock spaces loading and unloading trailers. Collisions can damage doors outright, or the can at least compromise their ability to seal the doorway. The resulting misalignment creates gaps that enable the invasion of moisture into the facility.
Standard dock doors with garage-style roller guides and light-gauge metal tracks cannot stand up to the impacts suffered on the dock. In some situations, replacing lower panels, where most damage occurs with “flex panels” ensures the doorway is covered. Often times however, management finds damage occurring at all points of the door and decides it is best to install a fully impactable door.
TKO® Dock Doors are designed and built to stand up to both the occasional bump and the most severe impacts from forklifts, product loads and even trailers. Rather than becoming damaged from the force of a major impact, the door panels simply release from their track and can easily be set back in place.
TKO doors feature rolling, retractable plungers riding along V-groove tracks ensure to the door will operate easily. Some door models include the patented Impact-A-Track™ made of high-impact plastic. These doors offer superior durability over standard doors, but can also prevent the transmission of heat from the outside, preventing chilled interior air from condensing and dripping on the floor.
Closing the avenues for moisture. Standard pit-mounted dock levelers provide efficient trailer access for forklifts, but the pit cut into the concrete dock floor allows small gaps that act as a passageway for moisture. Even a tightly closed and sealed door can’t prevent moisture from infiltrating through the gaps.
A solution to for both new and existing pit-style dock levelers is to outfit them with an advanced ENERGY GUARD™ perimeter weatherseal system—a combination of durable open-cell foam and heavy-duty vinyl. This system effectively fills the gaps around the sides and rear of the dock leveler and provides a superior perimeter seal.
As an alternative to pit-style dock levelers, Kelley® Vertical Storing Dock Levelers and LoadHog® Modular Dock Bridges store upright when not in use. Their design allows the dock door to close tightly against the concrete floor, sealing in energy and locking out the elements.
Door seals make sure a parked trailer doesn’t bring in more than product. Docks depend on seals and shelters to close off the gap between the dock wall and the trailer to prevent the invasion of outdoor moisture, dirt and other debris.
Kelley dock seals have fabric-covered foam pads that compress when the trailer backs into them, providing a tight seal around the sides of the trailer and closing the gaps between the trailer’s door hinges. Kelley dock shelters create a canopy around the perimeter of the trailer, allowing full, unimpeded access to the trailer interior.
The addition of a Kelley AquaShield® Rain Sealing System to a shelter will provide even more protection against water infiltration at the dock. This patented sealing system keeps external moisture out of the loading dock area with a "wiper" pad that engages the vehicle at the door moving moisture away from the door opening.
Get a grip on the truck. Many docks use rubber wheel chocks in an attempt to hold trailers in place during loading and unloading, but these chocks are no match for the forces exerted by forklifts driving in and out of trailers. This force can gradually cause a trailer to creep away from the dock, forming a doorway gap. A Kelley STAR® powered vehicle restraint ensures that the trailer is held snugly to the dock with the back end of the trailer fully enveloped by the dock seal or shelter.
Move air/remove moisture. Growing numbers of facilities are installing Kelley Fusion ™ high volume low speed (HVLS) large fans to reduce their energy costs. These fans move large volumes of air at low speeds over very great areas, dissipating moisture and creating drier dock floors. The fan blades produce a massive column of air that flows down to the floor and outward in all directions, creating a deep “horizontal floor jet” that ultimately circulates air up vertically and gets drawn back through the top of the fan.
The equipment on the loading dock has always been focused on safety. Adding the additional benefit of keeping the dock floor dry contributes yet another dimension to the well-being of the workforce in facilities.