In safety we understand that if something can be done, it will be done eventually. So if it’s possible for a truck to pull away when being loaded by a forklift, it will happen. You can find videos showing trucks pulling away on YouTube and on regulatory websites there are plenty of case studies.
So, how do you keep a truck driver from driving off during the loading process?
Let’s look at some options that don’t involve physically restraining the truck driver while the forklift is loading trucks:
- Wheel Chocks: Chocks are required when loading to prevent the trailer from shifting forward as the forklift drives in and out of the van. The question is who is responsible for placing the chocks at your location? Ultimately it should be the forklift operator since they are the ones running the risk of trucks pulling away. They can set the chocks when verifying that the floor of the vehicle can support the weight of the forklift and the load.
- Dock Locks: These devices mechanically connect the loading dock to the rear bumper of the trailer. They are activated (and deactivated) by the forklift operator.
- Lights: Red and green lights are often used in association with dock locks to signal the truck driver when loading is completed and the vehicle can be moved.
- Quarantine the truck driver: - Ask the driver to wait in a designated area until loading is complete. Donuts and coffee can keep the drivers from wandering away.
- Signage: Place a stop sign in front of the tractor at a height that is readily seen by the truck driver or place a magnetic sign on the drivers door.
- Lockout /tagout: This could be done by placing a Do Not Operate tag on the vehicle’s steering wheel. You can also place the vehicle keys in a lock box or disconnect the airline to the trailer’s brakes.
So what’s the best way of preventing trucks pulling away? There isn’t one, and many locations use a mix of techniques. If your location hasn’t addressed this, we recommend raising the issue with your forklift operators. Find out what methods they prefer. With their buy-in, they are more likely to actually use the systems chosen.
If you would like to share your experiences/photos of forklift incidents that can educate others on the principles of safe forklift operation please send them to: bhulberg@D2000safety.com
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