Loading docks are one of the most critical and dangerous links in any supply chain.

Industrial Facility Safety from the Loading Dock to the Plant Interior -- Occupational Health & Safety

Warehouses, distribution centers and manufacturing facilities are inherently dangerous places. Almost all essential industrial operations carry some form of risk, whether they occur at a loading dock, the plant’s interior or anywhere in between. Protecting workers, and the goods and equipment that are part of these processes, is one of the most fundamental aspects of any facility manager’s job.

The cost of accidents is high, in every respect. Plants with bad safety records can have trouble attracting employees and often suffer low employee morale, an intangible that is widely understood to hinder productivity. The tangible cost of accidents is even more daunting. Between workers’ compensation, damaged product, fulfillment or production delays and downtime, the National Safety Council projects that workplace injuries accounted for a loss of $171 billion in the United States in 2019. Not surprisingly, many facilities are upgrading their equipment to help reduce existing risks. Forward-thinking facilities are going a step further, however, by investing in smart equipment and controls that can help them make data-informed decisions around safety protocols and training to ensure employees return home safely at the end of every shift—today, tomorrow and in the future.

Industrial Internet of Things and Dock Management Software

Loading docks are one of the most critical and dangerous links in any supply chain. Often the busiest area of a facility, they are a constantly shifting jigsaw of human and machine activity with semi-trucks, forklifts, pallet jacks and AGVs interacting. The growth of online commerce is only increasing the pace of those interactions. It is no wonder that almost 25 percent of all industrial accidents take place in the shipping and receiving zone.

Internet of Things (IoT) technology is moving rapidly into the world of industrial facility management. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applies various sets of hardware working together to enhance the manufacturing industrial process. This focus allows companies to increase energy efficiency, streamline communication, enhance productivity and monitor events. Real-time and historical safety events can be communicated to safety managers through text and/or email alerts. Through an analysis performed by the IIoT platform, this data helps companies identify trends, training opportunities and employee behavioral improvement through data-driven decisions.

This article originally appeared in the February 1, 2022 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.