Safety in warehouses and manufacturing facilities in Canada is regulated by standards developed by the Government of Canada’s Labour Program, as well as CCOHS. The main focus of these entities is to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses through continuous monitoring and inspections of facilities and modifications to applicable standards.
Loading dock locations are an important area to consider when specifying safe materials in a warehouse. There can be up to hundreds of doorways along the typical loading dock—these openings can permit moisture to enter the area and mix with dirt, debris, and oil, creating a dangerously slick surface.
Many companies are realizing warehouse safety begins with planning and prevention on the dock and inside the warehouse during the design, construction, or retrofitting of a facility. With this in mind, there is no better place to start than with the warehouse doors separating the inside of the facility and employees from a host of potential hazards.
Dock doors can be easily damaged by forklift traffic and products on tight, busy docks as workers try to manoeuvre materials into and out of trailers. Due to their unique track, panel, plunger, and weather seal design, impactable dock doors can prevent gaps from forming between the door panels when they are hit, and reduce the amount of elements and moisture that can enter a facility.
Wet floor surfaces
Wet floor surfaces are a particular area of concern regarding slip-and-fall injuries. CCOHS guidelines recommend employers retain an effective housekeeping program ensuring work area floor surfaces are kept as dry as possible. Areas that cannot be cleaned continuously should have some form of anti-slip flooring in place as an added safety measure.
Impactable dock doors allow them to stand up to the abuse experienced on the dock. When a forklift or other object collides with the door, the impact causes the plungers to retract, allowing the door to release from the opening, thus preventing panel damage. After the door is knocked out from the track, a light pull on the handles resets the door, putting it back in operation quickly without damage. This, as well as weather seals being attached to the door panels themselves rather than the door jambs, helps to keep floors dry and safe, and ensures employers remain in compliance with CCOHS guidelines. Additionally, because the weather seals are attached to the door panels, the seal cannot be easily damaged—this, in turn, lowers total cost of ownership.
Since door and track damage are some of the leading causes of broken seals and gaps on traditional doors that can cause moisture to build up on the warehouse floor, impactable doors also feature an impactable track. These tracks can run the entire length of the door opening to protect against potential damage from impacts from forklifts, masts, and materials without sustaining any damage or exposing the facility to gaps that can let in rain, snow, condensation, or ice that could otherwise be disastrous for both pedestrian and forklift traffic.
Weather as a major contributor to safety risks
Slips and falls are not the only types of risks with which loading dock doors need to contend. Environment Canada emphasizes significant differences in its regional geography and seasonal conditions create risk for a wide range of hazardous weather conditions that can affect dock doors, including ice storms and blizzards, tornadoes, and hurricanes. On average, there are about 80 tornadoes reported annually across Canada according to Environment Canada, but the total number of tornadoes occurring annually nationwide could actually be closer to 230.
Canada’s Maritime coastlines and low-lying inland areas are susceptible to high-wind events associated with hurricanes and tropical storms and the potential devastation they cause when wind speeds can range from approximately 180 to 240 km/h (110 to 150 mph). Even if an area has been spared from dealing with these disasters in the past, building owners should be prepared for whatever nature blows their way.