Modified: December 7, 2022

Common Loading Ramp Safety Hazards and How to Prevent Accidents

There is different equipment to load and unload products in and out of vans, freight trucks, and other vehicles in or out of a docking bay, for example. Many employers use lift gates, while some have ramps or carts to move the cargo as part of the freight job tasks.

Although both methods are excellent and efficient in helping load and unload products, or even cars (think car truck carriers) or most dry van trailers and those used during inclement weather come with particular safety risks, which is why employees need safety awareness and training and a large dose of common sense.

Let’s review some common trailer bed and loading ramp safety hazards with Ehline Law and our trucking accident personal injury attorneys. We will look at how box trucks unload product, some ways employers equip dry vans and stacking product to prevent injuries and reduce product damage. Let’s go!

Common Loading Ramp Safety Hazards and How to Handle Them

The following are the most common hazards when using a loading ramp.

Over Stacking

Over stacking is a method employees utilize to lessen the number of trips they must make. But this short cut can leads to serious safety problems. For example, employee can slip, trip and fall. They can also be struck by a falling object and be hit with falling products in the head. They can also double backwards and suffer spine injuries. These workers might have a push cart, or forklift in front of them when going up of down the loading ramp. Either way, it’s risky to over stack. Considering the potential injuries, this and other faster methods pose, moving a product like this is bad. As workers lose better control over heavy objects, this will cause product to fall off ramp guides leading to or from a truck or trailer while moving product.

Overloading

To stay safe, like overstacking, overloading can kill a driver, bystander, motorcycle rider or anyone else in the path of an overladen vehicle. Loaders must always look for the manufacturer’s maximum load capacity rating. That way they can verify the safe weight a cart will safely hold. Shelves, vehicle suspension, loading ramps, trailers and anything else can fail, fall, break and kill people from any angle.

Gaps

Improperly attached ramps to vehicles can be a serious hazard for those loading and unloading cargo. These can lead to gaps between the ramp and the vehicle, significantly increasing the risk of injuries, damaged shipment, and property damage.

Attaching a loading ramp to a vehicle without securing it can also cause the ramp to slip, leading to serious injuries as the cargo may fall on the person loading or unloading it.

To avoid falls, before a person can use a ramp, they must have certain features. Employees must ensure that the ramp is safely and securely attached in the proper place at the trailer. This will help reduce safety risks and creating other important advantages for employees and freight operators in the supply chain.

These features include the following:

  • Dock overlap strips: These are short overlap strips made out of PVC that fit into the gap allowing forklifts, pallet jacks, and people to move in and out of a truck. The foreman must adjust these straps accordingly to avoid others becoming injured.
  • Transition plates: These are heavy-duty metal plates that are attached to the loading dock by a hinge to span the gap as you maneuver product and materials.
  • Integrated dock leveler: These use a hydraulic system to lift and extend a platform, offering forklifts a level surface to drive across as loaders are working and pushing carts.

Some ramps come with safety straps and chains out of the box to help users secure them to the trailer and its safety hooks.

Slippery Surfaces

Wheeled vehicles or equipment going up the ramp, such as forklifts and pallet jacks, have lower traction on wet and slippery surfaces. Rain, snow, and ice can make ramp surfaces highly slippery, increasing the risk of accidents.

Workers can load and unload using a ramp during low to medium rain, but in high rain, visibility is low, and the surface can become too slippery to operate on. The same applies to snow and ice, which can cause forklifts or equipment to slide down the ramp.

Besides rain, snow, and ice, dirt and mud can also make ramps slippery, making them a hazard during loading and unloading operations.

Improper Ramp Operation

When using a loading ramp, it is crucial to be careful, as even a slight mistake can lead to a catastrophic accident. Driving up the ramp in a forklift too fast, carrying too many items on the pallet jacks, or exceeding the weight capacity of the ramp are serious safety issues.

It is essential for employers to properly train employees and provide them with safety guidelines to follow when operating ramps to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.

Ramp Safety: Preventing Fall Hazards

Let’s go over some safety tips to correctly load and unload products onto the vehicles using ramps to prevent fall hazards and reduce the risk of injuries.

  • Use the correct ramp size: When using a ramp to load or unload cargo, it is crucial to choose a ramp that is suitably sized for the load. If you’re unsure which ramp to use, it is best to choose a big rather than a small ramp.
  • Securely attach the ramp: If you’re using a removable ramp, you should connect it securely to a trailer or a vehicle before using it. Certain features or accessories of a ramp can help eliminate the gap to prevent accidents.
  • Clean the ramp: Before use, you should consider cleaning the ramp to remove any dust, dirt, or mud which can cause slippage. You can attach anti-slip surfaces to the ramp surfaces for more traction to reduce the risk of accidents.
  • Avoid steep ramps: Make sure to keep the ramp angle low to the ground to make it easier for loading and unloading. A steep ramp is difficult to move onto and can cause falls.
  • Drive backward: If you’re driving a rear-wheel drive forklift, you should drive on the ramp backwards with the load so that if the load tips over, it doesn’t fall on you.
  • Don’t take risks: It is essential to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Don’t follow through with something that seems like a bad idea. When loading mechanical vehicles, be extra cautious.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers in certain industries must follow fall protection standards if the trailer height exceeds 6 feet. 

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration requires employers to use ramps with traction to avoid slip and fall accidents during rough weather conditions.

Even with these safety standards in place, not all employers follow these guidelines, which may lead to work-related accidents. If you suffered work-related injuries due to employer negligence, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation, as you may be eligible for compensation.

Top Notch American Injury Lawyer, Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline

Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.

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