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Workplace injuries happen despite automated loading dock safety

Loading docks are known to be hazardous areas. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says statistical evidence indicates that some of the most significant hazards in loading docks nationwide, including in Oklahoma, involve forklifts -- with an estimated fatality every three days. However, safety authorities say that advanced technology to reduce the number of workplace injuries is being introduced all the time.

Advancement in safety technology has eliminated the need for loading dock workers to manually chock or unchock the wheels of trailers or lift levelers. Automated systems are in place in most facilities, and red and green lights indicate when a trailer is secured or released to travel. Sensors are also used to provide warning lights for as long as there is any activity inside the trailer to prevent it pulling away with the forklift driver still inside.

A typical hazard in the past was caused when stacked pallets and merchandise blocked the view of forklift operators. Many loading dock accidents used to involve forklifts traveling over the edges of the loading docks. New technology now places retractable barriers and LED lights in areas where forklift operators may have difficulty maneuvering the machines because of cramped areas and random objects limiting their vision.

However, even advanced technological equipment must be accurately operated to improve safety. The slightest error or pushing a button a moment too soon or too late can have devastating consequences. The primary safety precaution remains training, without which workplace injuries will continue to occur. The fact that workers' compensation benefits are available for injured victims may provide peace of mind. Experienced Oklahoma attorneys can assist with the navigation of benefits claims to recover medical expenses and lost wages.

Source:, "Loading Dock Distractions: Improve Safety by Clearly Communicating Danger", Chad Dillavou, Feb. 14, 2018

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