For many UK firms with distribution facilities and delivery expectations to meet, the onset of winter can mean company loading bays are really put through their paces, as testing weather conditions, seasonal distribution surges, and the pressure to meet timescales combine.
Having experienced the benefits and potential for accident prevention through operating a well and safely maintained loading bay, Thorworld Industries recommends undertaking essential checks and following key advice to keep loading bays performing, staff safely operating, and consignments moving throughout the coming weeks:
With autumn already here and winter fast approaching, it couldn’t be a more pressing time for companies operating loading bay apparatus and facilities to get the equipment they rely upon in safe, effective and compliant order.
Testing winter weather conditions, and the increased logistical demands of the festive season both play their part in applying extra pressure to equipment – equipment that is essential in keeping the flow of business moving, at a time when it really matters.
Servicing loading bays should be considered as vital as maintaining the engines of cars or plant machinery, as neglect can quickly lead to inefficiency, or worse accidents. Improper servicing and lack of maintenance is considered one of the most common causes of loading bay accidents, so a seasonal turn in the weather or flux in demand can naturally hit a logistical operation harder during the winter, stretching the capabilities of even relatively new loading apparatus. We therefore advise in the strongest terms that companies looking to remain effective and compliant, operating loading equipment of any age, ensure the service log is up-to-date and that equipment is ‘winter-ready’ and suitably adapted to accommodate both the expected and unanticipated during the months ahead.
Our loading bay is working fine? Why service now?
Put simply, prevention is better than cure. By taking the time and making the investment of a relatively minor servicing expense, loading equipment can remain fully functional, downtime can be avoided, and subsequent pressure on the wider company prevented. This means clients’ expectations can continue to be met, bottle-necking doesn’t become an issue, and critically, accidents can be prevented.
We strongly recommend companies with loading bay facilities check records to establish whether active equipment meets the requirements of PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations), and is correctly maintained to prevent operative health and safety being risked. When arranging an inspection, ensure the task is performed by a competent person. If you’ve an employee within your workforce with the necessary credentials to execute an inspection, make sure they assess your apparatus on time. Alternatively, book an inspection with a Thorworld engineer who will certify compliancy using all current, relevant regulations, under the auspices of FEM Guidance Documents.
‘Weather’ or not to service?
While winter weather is unpredictable, it is always possible that a cold snap will create disruption. Icy temperatures, wet conditions, snow and frost can all detrimentally affect the safe function of loading bay equipment, so by taking the time to perform maintenance and safety checks and attend to existing wear and tear, the likelihood of equipment functioning safely significantly increases. Furthermore, the price of a service can be comparably less than the cost of a major repair.
Consider flexible options designed to make winter weather conditions less challenging for operatives in the loading environment. The addition of seals and shelters can help create a safer loading area; while improved, clearer signage, and the addon of accessories such as traffic lights, alignment curbs and dock bumpers, can all help play their part in preventing human accident and equipment damage.
Consider short-term solutions to maximise seasonal efficiency
If possible, research the upcoming needs of your loading and unloading area, and the amount of traffic you expect. Apparatus such as a ‘Rent-a-Ramp’ from Thorworld can prove ideal in facilitating increased capacity, while investment in cost effective accessories such as Dockplates or Dockboards, can prove invaluable during busy periods, as these highly mobile accessories can be brought into play to enable safe, anti-slip and efficient manoeuvre of fork trucks, pallet trucks, sack trucks and roll cages, while also providing safe pedestrian access.
Operating an effective, well-serviced loading bay ensures equipment compliance, resolves functional issues and improves user safety, while minimising the potential for downtime, and maximising delivery efficiency. By ensuring your Loading Bay is in order now, your winter delivery period will have a far better chance of remaining streamlined and effective.