Loading docks and bays are inherently dangerous places. Thankfully, new technologically-advanced dock safety systems – incorporating motion sensors, LED lights, audible/visual alarms and interlocking controls – are now available to make these critical work areas safer than they’ve been in the past. In some cases, these systems can be added as stand-alone units as budgets allow, provided facilities install upgradeable equipment as the basis for their dock management system.
The newest of these products are motion sensor-based systems designed to protect workers both inside and outside the dock. One such system projects a blue light onto the leveller whenever activity is detected inside a trailer, alerting workers nearby that a forklift, pallet jack or pedestrian could be coming out at any moment. It can be added to any dock or can be integrated with advanced control boxes to keep the vehicle restraint locked until activity in the trailer stops, ensuring the truck doesn’t pull away with a forklift operator still inside.
The drive approach outside of the loading dock is equally dangerous, although collisions here typically involve a semi-tractor trailer rather than a forklift. Given the ambient noise and the distance between a loading dock and the engine of a semi-tractor trailer, inattentive dockyard workers may not hear a tractor trailer backing toward them until it is too late.
To address this challenge, docks can be equipped with external sensors, which trigger an audible and visual alarm to alert workers outside the dock when a trailer begins backing in and provide them adequate time to remove themselves from danger.
Some vehicle restraints even include these hazard recognition and control features as standard. Both the internal and external warnings can be incorporated into a comprehensive system using red and green LED lights to indicate a docked trailers status. When the trailer is locked and safe for forklifts to access, green lights will activate inside at the top corners of the dock opening and a red light will come on outside. When the trailer restraint is no longer engaged, the interior dock corner lights change to red while the exterior light turns green (indicating to the driver it is safe to pull away).
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Image: Rite-Hite’s Approach-Vu sensor triggers a visual and audio alarm when trailers back into a dock.