Loading docks are a fundamental element for logistics
centers, warehouses, and other industrial facilities.
- What is a loading dock?
- Types of loading and
- Planning a loading dock
- Risk factors of a loading
- Loading dock regulations
Loading docks are a part of intralogistics
that help move products effectively from a facility to their final
destination or vice versa. This should be a loading dock
owner’s top concern.
What is a loading dock?
We can define loading docks as a logistical area of
great importance where the loading and unloading of products
within warehouses or industries are taken place.
The fundamental aspect element that makes a loading dock stand
out is the ramp, which makes it possible to bridge the gap between
the transport vehicle, usually a truck, and the industrial
facility’s floor level, achieving a perfect fit.
Types of loading and unloading docks
Although all loading docks have the same basic function, their
uses vary depending on their environment.
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From its construction to the type of loading merchandise, there
are different types of loading docks that are better suited
to certain environments than others.
Here we are going to explain some of them.
A sawtooth-shaped dock is one of the most innovative when
it comes to manoeuvring in tight outdoor spaces around the
warehouse. They easily fit into tight or narrow spaces.
The industrial sector that is best suited to this type
of loading dock is one of large-scale manufacturing and
that has a vast storage size to accommodate its unusual size.
It is the most common type of loading dock for lifting or
transporting large and heavy objects.
This type of loading dock allows the access zone to be
flush against the rear end of the truck.
Shock-absorbing bumpers are used to prevent the walls from being
damaged. The dock is parallel to the building, allowing materials
to be easily loaded and supplies to be unloaded comfortably and
These docks are generally used to save space, because they fit
perfectly within the building or warehouse, making them ideal for
What industries use this type of dock? Manufacturers and those
with commercial items to deliver.
Despite being unpopular and rare among loading dock
types, open docks are still being used today.
It’s basically an open platform with little protection from
the natural environment.
They don´t provide safe enclosures for merchandise, prone to
damage and theft.
This is why they are being used less and less to transport
However, they have a great advantage which is the easy
access to the load, which translates into greater
efficiency when unloading and loading.
Another of the rarer types of docks. This is because they
take up a lot of workspaces, preventing workers to access the
However, it has a very good advantage and that is that it helps
protect merchandise from any structural or environmental
Every type of loading dock has its advantages and
disadvantages, but they can all be effective if we know where to
install them and how to use them.
Planning a loading dock
In this section of the article, we will talk about the main
elements that compose a loading dock and the requirements they must
Elements compose a loading dock
Some are used in all types of loading docks, whilst
others are optional since they can provide advantages and benefits
in safety, work speed, etc. But, as a general rule, these are the
most commonly used.
The installation of mechanical ramps hardly requires any
building work, so they are considered to be an economical and very
quick solution to bridge the gap between the loading area and the
They are viable in industrial buildings that don´t have
electrical power since they don´t require any electricity, such
as, for example, vegetable and fruit warehouses.
Loading dock shelters
They are used to protect from heat, wind, and cold. They
guarantee energy saving and thermal insulation.
They create a union between the warehouse and the truck, so
they are essential in industries with perishable products to
maintain the cold chain.
They are an ideal solution for air-conditioned warehouses
because their insulation capacity guarantees energy saving.
They open by moving under the ceiling horizontally or
vertically, therefore, their installation will always be possible,
even if there is little space available.
Sectional doors used in loading docks are safe and
practical for unloading goods. This is because they adapt to all
types of environments, allowing a great optimization of space and
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If you want the loading dock’s cargo area to have greater
durability and safety, it is advisable that as well as carrying
maintenance, you incorporate other accessories that optimize
its daily use: truck restraints, protective buffers, and bumpers,
guide tubes, etc.
These elements have been appeared over time due to the need
to guarantee safety in the loading process, as well as due to
the different equipment and utensils used: pallet trucks, forklifts,
With some of the aforementioned accessories, we can reduce
damage and wear and tear of the constant use of a loading dock.
Requirements of a loading dock
Loading docks have certain legal requirements they must meet
so that they can be installed in an industrial warehouse. We
are going to tell you some of them.
Loading docks can be made in any size to adapt to the specific
needs of the business.
Some docks are made with adjustable heights.
If the dock is going to be used primarily for loading and
unloading trailers, then it will be built so that the deck
height matches the trailers, which is usually between 44 and 48
In the case of refrigerated trailers, these tend to be higher,
between 50 and 60 inches, so it all also depends on the type of
trailer we use.
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Ramp slope requirements
Although the ideal loading ramp inclination is 10 degrees
(and also the most common), the truth is that it is very common for
it to adapt to the space we have.
Many of the loading ramps are used to endure the enormous
weight of machinery such as forklifts or normal vehicles to
unload the goods.
That is why the weight requirements vary depending on its
However, the minimum weight is usually between 7,000 and 9,000
kg, although it is always better to exceed it.
Risk factors of a loading dock
Loading docks always hide many dangers, but you have to
be very careful because some of them can be deadly.
From large department stores to small businesses, any worker
operating on a loading dock can be at risk of having an
Companies must be aware of the dangers related to loading
docks to tackle them as soon as possible by establishing
When looking for information regarding loading dock
safety, it is difficult to find concise and clear
For this reason, we have decided to list the most common
dangers and incidents that occur on loading docks, as well as
recommendations on how to handle them.
However, we recommend that you take a look at the current
security regulations and legislation in your region or country on
Slips, trips, and falls
It is a common risk in our day to day lives, but on a loading
dock, there is additional danger due to the potentially greater
This danger can be easily improved with the use of
bollards, industrial protectors, and the use of a non-slip
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Lifting and moving heavy loads can cause very painful back
This is mainly due to the fact that we adopt incorrect body
postures to lift weights or we do not use tools effectively.
What risk factors
exist on a Loading Dock?Broken and/or crushed bones
Caused by slips, falls, misused equipment, etc.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
Trucks that donât shut off their engines cause fatal poisoning
to unsuspecting employees by inhaling carbon monoxide. This is more
common in poorly ventilated warehouses.
Here we can include many and very varied such as a forklift to
fall down the ramp and injuring pedestrians due to the driverâs
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Trailer lights can reach high temperatures, which can even cause
fires. It is not a frequent event but should be considered when
establishing security measures.
The dangers and consequent injuries that occur on loading docks
are very varied and depend on countless variables.
Safety regulations and laws hanging on the wall wonÂ´t prevent
them, but engineering advancement combined with good training can
make the difference.
Loading dock regulations
When referring to loading docks, an important distinction must
be made between safety legislation and technical
- UNE-EN 349: 1994 + A1: 2008 Safety of machinery. Minimum safety
gaps to avoid crushing parts of the human body parts.
- UNE-EN 1398: 2010 Mechanical ramps. Safety requirements
- UNE-EN 13.241-1: 2004 + A1: 2011 Industrial and sectional
doors, gates, etc. Product standard. A.E.N.O.R.
a loading dock? | BECOSANÂ®
- 486/1997, of April 14, 1997: Minimum health and safety
requirements applicable to the workspace.
- 1215/1997, of July 18: Minimum health and safety requirements
for the use of work equipment by employees.
- Law 31/1995, of November 8, on the Prevention of Occupational
- 39/1997, of January 17, approving the Regulation of Prevention