By Steve Kalbfleisch
When it comes to specifying the doors for a loading dock project, safety statistics are a dramatic way to help people understand the important connection between choosing the right materials and equipment and the ultimate return on investment (ROI).
According to the latest data from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), there were more than 340,500 accepted work-related injuries/illnesses recorded in 2013. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) reports that of these, approximately 60,000 workers in Canada are injured each year due to slip-and-fall accidents alone. This number represents nearly 18 per cent of ‘time-loss’ injuries accepted by workers compensation boards or commissions across the country that can cost companies billions annually.
One of the easiest ways to avoid slips and falls in work environments, such as a warehouse facility, is by trying to control (or better, eliminate) the hazards. Many of these threats can simply be avoided by selecting the proper loading dock doors.
Role of dock doors
Impactable doors can be a solution for controlling several work-related risks. Of paramount importance is the door’s tight perimeter brush and loop weather seals that eliminate water and air infiltration as well as light gaps. Such seals are attached to the impactable door panels themselves instead of the door jamb. This keeps the seals out of harm’s way to ensure consistently dry work surfaces around the inside of the door.
Impactable dock doors, unlike their standard overhead counterparts, are not only designed to seal out moisture, but can also stand up to the rigours of everyday use, including impacts from forklifts. Impactable doors ride along unconventional V-groove tracks and use retractable plungers. When a door is hit, the panel offers no resistance and is knocked out of its track undamaged. A quick pull on the panel resets it in place and the door is then easily placed back into operation.
Further, since door and track damage are some of the leading causes of broken seals and gaps on doors that can lead to moisture buildup on the warehouse floor, many models feature an impactable track running the entire length of the opening. This protects against impact damage from forklifts, masts, and materials without sustaining any damage or exposing the facility to gaps that can let in the rain, snow, condensation, or ice.
To further protect impactable doors from permanent damage, their interior skin is made of a tough polycarbonate material that resists impacts from forklifts and other heavy equipment. Additionally, varying thicknesses of available interior foam insulation between the door panel skins help to absorb impacts as well as provide increased energy efficiency depending on the insulation thickness and associated R-value.
When considering workplace falls, most people immediately think of accidents from a height, yet statistics suggest roughly two-thirds happen on same-level surfaces and result from slips and trips, according to both the CCOHS as well as the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Ontario.
While keeping people from harm is obviously the priority, a loss of productivity is often a side effect of worker injury. On average, workers who are injured as a result of a slip-and-fall accident spend more days away from work than those hurt by other causes. For example, the WSIB estimates the average slip, trip, or fall in the workplace costs employers in Ontario $2000 in direct costs and an additional $20,000 in indirect costs. Industries of particular interest when it comes to determining the allocation percentages for these injuries include warehouse, wholesale/retail, and manufacturing spheres, which together account for the greatest proportion of injuries resulting from same-level falls—more than 60 percent.