Seeing trucks moving freight around the country is a familiar sight to all of us as we undertake our journeys. The accident rate involving heavy goods vehicles has halved in the last decade, so the roads are a little safer, but the roads are not the only potentially dangerous part of the logistics industry.
Loading Bay Safety
Loading and unloading in a distribution centre or warehouse can be a dangerous place and requires a greater attention to safety than might be thought. Goods are loaded and unloaded in a loading bay which, for those that are not aware, is an area designated for the purpose and consists of a platform at a level commensurate with the height of a truck trailer on to which the goods can be moved, either into the trailer or from the trailer into the warehouse. On the face of it, it seems like a straightforward operation, but where there are people and machinery working at a significant height above ground; it can be a recipe for something to go wrong.
The layout and design of the loading bay area has a great influence on the safety of the working area. Space is a crucial factor in the layout as there should be as much of it as practicable, as room to move goods comfortably and room in and around the vehicle is very important. More space means there is somewhere for operatives to escape to in the event of a mishap such as a poorly driven forklift or perhaps a trailer being reversed where the driver may be unsighted.
The height of the loading bay or dock is also a significant factor as the danger of falling is self-evident. Barriers and clearly delineated marking on the edge of the bay helps prevents an unfortunate error. Due to delivery patterns work in these areas is often carried out very early in the morning or later at night when operatives may not be at their most alert, so as much warning of potential hazard is important.
Outside of the immediate loading bay environment, external factors can also play a part influencing both the operatives and the goods being moved. We are no strangers to inclement weather in this country and loading or unloading in wind and rain can be a hazardous business. The trailer is normally backed up into the opening of the bay, which, in some situations, can have a weather seal around it for protection. This arrangement has its own difficulties as the outside is effectively divorced from the inside and there is the potential perhaps of the trailer being moved without the knowledge of those inside.
A canopy above the loading bay offers good weather protection to both operatives and the goods being transported. A loading bay canopy can be constructed to encompass the loading area and can cover both the bay and the truck if needed, to provide complete insulation from the elements, and because these structures can be sized to suit, they can provide that important aid to safety – space.
Machinery and human beings can be an awkward mixture with the potential for something unfortunate to happen, which is why we have risk assessments and health and safety procedures. Sometimes regulations and working practices can seem pettifogging and intrusive but they are there for a purpose, not only to create good habits but also to keep the mind concentrating on the most important part of the logistics process, which is of course safety.