Tips for Loading and Unloading a Trailer Using a Forklift
The heartbeat of an operation is its loading dock. The loading dock is where new materials arrive and where outgoing products get sent to their destinations. However, sometimes new and outgoing products can damage the loading dock due to incorrect usage of forklifts, carelessness, and complacency. Follow these tips for loading and unloading a trailer using a forklift to ensure your loading dock and your facility keep running as efficiently as possible.
Use the Correct Forklift
Before trying to load or unload a trailer, facilities must establish whether they are using the right forklift for the job. For this, you must know whether a load is within a forklift’s carrying capacity and whether the height of the trailer makes it suitable for the forklift in question. Some forklifts, such as 3-wheel forklifts, may be better suited for smaller unloading jobs in docks with less space to maneuver. On the other hand, 4-wheel forklifts are better suited for larger loads and more massive docks.
Secure Trailer and Load
Many accidents happen when loading and unloading a trailer with a forklift because the trailer or the load was not secure. Before entering the trailer, check the wheels of the trailer. If the trailer is attached to a vehicle, the brakes should be on, and the tires blocked. If a trailer is not attached to a vehicle, check to see if fixed jacks are required to keep the trailer from tilting or upending once the forklift enters it. When moving a load, make sure the load is centered on the forks, and the mast is tilted back, so the load is stabilized.
Communication is always essential in preventing forklift accidents, but this is especially true when loading a trailer. A significant hazard when loading a trailer is the truck, tractor, or train pulling the trailer driving off before the forklift driver is prepared. That is why a system of communication is crucial between both drivers and forklift operators, especially in loading docks where the truck driver cannot see the forklift operator.
Given the high volume of activity continually happening on a loading dock, it is not surprising that 25 percent of industrial accidents take place there. One of the best ways to make sure that these accidents don’t happen is to be aware of your surroundings, keep areas organized, and use best practices when loading and unloading trailers.