Docks and warehouses where trucks load and receive cargo can be hazardous for both employees and visitors. Falls from loading docks frequently result in serious injuries due to the height between the dock platforms and the ground and the sharp equipment and surfaces commonly found in these areas.
About 25% of all warehouse injuries occur on loading docks, and most of these are slip-and-fall accidents. Loading docks can be high-traffic areas with employees, machines, and equipment constantly passing through, which can cause metal dock plates to become worn-down and slippery; rain, mud, or spilled oil can then make them even more hazardous.
Inclement weather in general can increase the risk of a slip-and-fall on a dock, especially if the dock lacks a seal or other shelter to protect against rain and snow. Poor visibility, often due to inadequate lighting, also poses serious risks when employers and visitors cannot easily identify the dock’s edge between dusk and dawn.
There are plenty of precautions that property owners may take to minimize the risks of falls on loading docks, and these usually begin with restricting access to the area to authorized employees and personnel who are trained in relevant safety protocols. If access is prohibited for non-employee visitors and/or the general public, there should be clearly-visible signs which say so. Employees who work at and around the dock should always report any spills immediately and ensure that everyone is following appropriate safety measures at all times. Dock seals/shelters should be used whenever possible to keep the dock clear of leaves and other debris and protected against precipitation. For docks which are often used at night, the edges can be painted with a bright, reflective color to increase visibility.
Finally, inspections should be conducted regularly to identify any potential safety hazards, such as broken or missing safety gear, inadequate lighting, or debris on or around the dock.
Compensation for warehouse employees who have suffered an accident on the loading dock is generally limited to worker’s compensation, and a personal injury claim is only viable if a third-party (an entity other than the employer) was directly responsible for the accident and any injuries sustained. For example, if the employer hires an independent cleaning business to clean the area after-hours, but a spill is left near the edge of the dock and then results in an accident for an employee, that employee may have a viable claim against the cleaning company for its negligence. If a faulty piece of equipment causes an accident for an employee, he/she may have a viable product liability claim against the manufacturer of the equipment; if inadequate maintenance caused the equipment to pose a hazard, the employee may have a viable negligence claim against those responsible for its maintenance.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident on a loading dock, contact Mike Agruss Law for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have suffered an injury in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you.
Lastly, Mike Agruss Law is not paid attorneys’ fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.