A forklift fell off the loading dock of a warehouse as it was in the process of entering a semi-trailer that was being loaded. The forklift fell because the semi-trailer and the connected truck rolled away from the edge of the loading dock as the forklift passed over the dock leveler into the trailer. The repeated braking forces of the forklift as it carried loads onto the trailer caused the trailer to move away from the loading dock. The semi-trailer wheels were not chocked to prevent movement away from the loading dock.
A dock leveler is a ramp that extends from a loading dock to a trailer bed. Dock levelers come in several types ranging from hydraulically operated dock levelers mounted on the loading dock wall to portable ramps that are not mounted to the loading dock.
Dock levelers will fall if they are not properly supported or attached at both the loading dock and the trailer that is being loaded or unloaded. The Code of Federal Regulations provides a requirement in CFR1910.178 that truck brakes shall be set and the wheels shall be chocked during trailer loading and unloading to prevent movement. Many loading docks have wheel chocks that are connected by chains so that they are always available when trucks pull up to the loading docks.
Other requirements and safety standards for loading dock operations are found in 29 CFR 1910.176 “material handling”, CFR 1910.22 “walking-working surfaces”, and ANSI B56.1-1969 “American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks.” A properly chocked and secured tractor trailer at the loading dock will reduce the potential for forklift roll off accidents.
John Phillips, senior consulting engineer at Warren, has more than 30 years of crane and heavy equipment experience and more than 17 years of experience in forensic engineering. A licensed professional engineer in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and Ohio, he’s NCEES registered both as a model engineer and with The United States Council for International Engineering Practice, USCIEP. John has designed crane systems, supervised installation, tested and certified lifting equipment even serving as a project engineer for maintenance and certification of nuclear weapon lifting and handling systems. John is a certified fire and explosion investigator and fire and explosion investigator instructor by the National Association of Fire Investigators. John is a member of the American Society of Materials and American Society of Testing and Materials, as well as a voting member of ASTM Ships & Marine Forensic Sciences, Forensic Engineering, and Performance of Buildings committees.