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Ohio State University Extension


Loading Docks and Warehouses for Trainers and Supervisors

Tailgate Safety Training for Landscaping and Horticultural Services
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Agricultural Safety and Health Program

Objective: Work safely on the loading dock and in warehouses.

Trainer’s Note

Sometimes, loading docks and warehouses are injuries waiting to happen. For this module:

  • Review the information below on hazards and safety tips.
  • Walk through your own loading dock and warehouse with workers.
  • Ask workers to identify potential hazards they see and ways to avoid them.
  • Review the important points.
  • Have workers take the True/False quiz to check their learning.


Loading docks and warehouses are full of forklifts and other material-handling devices, powered or unpowered. Two common serious accidents involving powered industrial trucks are:

  • Backing off the dock.
  • Overturns (turning too fast with the wheels too close to the edge of the dock).

Improper and irregular stacking of materials causes incidents. Failure to tie in stacked boxes or cartons and piling stock too high can cause the stock to fall. Make sure that stacked materials do not block the building sprinkler system.

Before Unloading a Truck

  • Double check to be sure that the truck brakes are set.
  • Chock the rear wheels of the truck. Chocking the rear wheels keeps the trailer from moving away from the dock when you enter the truck. For more information, see the Tailgate Safety Training module Chock and Block.

Loading Dock Tips

  • Be alert when working on the dock.
  • Don’t speed; watch out for other trucks and workers.
  • Look for boxes, cartons, drums, crates, or skids that are not in their proper places. Also watch for items that extend beyond the aisles.
  • Follow established traffic lines and storage boundary lines.
  • Be aware of which materials should not be stored close together—for example, chemicals whose vapors could be harmful if combined.
  • Be especially alert for overhead hazards, like pipes, structural members, lights, door casings, high cable wires, and signs.
  • Know where fire extinguishers are located and what type of extinguisher to use on different types of fires.
  • For more information, refer to the Tailgate Safety Training module Portable Fire Extinguishers.
  • Follow rules regarding the handling and storage of flammable materials.
  • Pay attention to the U.S. Department of Transportation official warning signs, symbols, and labels on containers.
  • In case of a spill:
    • Identify the spilled material.
    • Evacuate the area or don Personal Protection Equipment if necessary.
    • Notify other workers and your supervisor of the spill.
    • Contain the spill with appropriate materials or devices.
    • Stop the source of the spill.
    • Clean up the spill.

Review These Important Points

  • Be alert on the dock.
  • Stack materials properly.
  • Follow all established traffic lanes and storage boundary lines.
  • Know where all fire extinguishers and fire alarm boxes are located.
  • Be aware of overhead hazards, like pipes, structural members, lights, door casings, or high cable wires and signs.

About These Modules
The author team for the training modules in the landscape and horticultural tailgate training series includes Dee Jepsen, Program Director, Agricultural Safety and Health, Ohio State University Extension; Michael Wonacott, Research Specialist, Vocational Education; Peter Ling, Greenhouse Specialist; and Thomas Bean, Agricultural Safety Specialist. Modules were developed with funding from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Grant Number 46E3-HT09.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of Labor.

Answer Key

1. T

2. T

3. F


5. F


Quiz: Loading Docks and Warehouses



True or False?

1. Injuries are caused by the improper and irregular stacking of materials on the dock and at the warehouse.     T     F

2. Follow established traffic lanes and storage boundary lines.     T     F

3. It is not important to chock the wheels of trailers at docks for loading or unloading.     T     F

4. It is important for all employees to know where to locate a fire extinguisher.     T     F

5. It is not important to keep the work area clutter free.     T     F

Originally posted Jun 4, 2018.