Easilift Loading Systems has raised awareness of the importance of designing out risk in the loading bay at an event organised by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and chaired by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
The company’s managing director Rob Fay also explored the benefits of proactive safety procedures such as the Dock Management System in his talk, given during the event "Dock Leveller Safety: the Happy Marriage of Vehicle and Loading Dock."
The Health & Safety Executive reports that, of the 246,000 accidents which occur annually in UK workplaces, 12% of those classed as fatal or major occur while loading or unloading. Fay has first-hand experience, having witnessed a workplace fatality early in his career. "I’m now in a position to do something about it, and I am delighted by the opportunity to address my peers on this vital issue.
"I even asked the audience how many had experienced a work related fatality, and the show of hands was revealing. We’re all aware of the problem; the next stage is to manage those risks in a sensible, effective and cost-efficient manner," he adds.
Easilift Loading Systems’ message for the logistics industry is that a reliance on measures such as vehicle restraint equipment offers false security. "Not only are such systems not 100% compatible with modern trailers, but they are essentially reactive measures that come into effect when a human error is made or after after an accident has already occurred."
The more holistic approach is to reduce the risk from the outset, and Fay emphasised the need to involve loading bay professionals as early as possible in a warehouse project. "It’s costly to fix mistakes when a new build is underway, but architects don’t always appreciate the subtleties of optimum loading bay design and performance.
"Correctly designed, it is possible to prevent roll-away by trapping the vehicle next to the bay using a system of balanced inclines. Yet it is vital that architects understand the technical specifications of the trailers to know the optimum distances and angles of descent. That’s one example where expert consultation can add value in an advisory capacity."
The same applies to the choice of loading bay equipment, with Fay giving dock shelters as an example. "Warehouse specifiers often cannot see the difference between a well-designed dock shelter and a poorly-designed one until it’s too late. One will be pitched to conduct rainwater away from working areas; the other will allow water to fall into the loading bay where it becomes a hazard – but to the untrained eye the shelters look identical."
Fay admits that not everybody can afford a new build, but existing warehouses can still design for best practice by adopting robust safety protocols. It is for this reason that Easilift Loading Systems – in conjunction with technology companies Traka and Castell – has devised a solution that can be retro-fitted to all Goods-In and Goods-Out depots. The Dock Management System removes risk by delivering an electronically controlled process whereby loading bay doors only remain open while drivers’ keys are safely locked away.
The Dock Management System highlights Easilift’s commitment to a proactive – rather than reactive – approach to safety, as the technology provides other tangible benefits to improve warehouse performance. "In addition to the safety benefits, controlling the doors also improves security, maintains ambient temperatures for greater energy efficiency, and provides invaluable data on usage patterns which in turn can be used to lower maintenance costs."
Feedback from the 100-strong audience was positive, with Easilift reporting a queue "four to five deep" on its stand to discuss the points raised in Rob Fay’s speech. He notes particularly that "many of my fellow speakers on the day highlighted the problems they have experienced, and I was delighted to be able to recommend appropriate solutions."
The event’s chairperson, Sally Thornley, FTA Director of Compliance, confirmed the value of Easilift Loading Systems’ presence at the event: "Loading dock safety has been identified as an important issue within our membership and it is crucial that suppliers and operators work together to design the best possible systems.
"A collaborative approach by all in the industry will play a significant part in securing the safety of those within the logistics sector, and we hope to continue to work with all stakeholders in raising awareness of these issues."
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