Efficiently managing a warehouse or other material handling facility is only possible if your loading and unloading processes are safe and streamlined. However, even the best procedures might not safeguard against injury if there aren’t strict safety guidelines in place to reduce the possibility of injury. While trailer ramps might appear to be easy to use, improper use of these ramps could result in back injuries or more severe problems.
If you can master trailer ramp safety in your facility, accidents should occur much less frequently, which means that there will be less injuries and fewer damaged products. The safety practices you choose to adopt in your facility mainly depend on what type of ramp you’re using.
Most ramps fall into one of two categories, which include manual-operated ramps and mechanically operated ramps. Knowing how to safely load and unload items on both ramp types should keep your personnel safe. The following is an in-depth guide on how to maintain injury-free loading and unloading processes.
The Importance of Trailer Ramp Safety
Trailer ramp safety is often overlooked but is essential if you want to keep injuries and accidents at a minimum. Improperly using trailer ramps can result in more risks as well as a higher rate of injuries. Any injuries in your warehouse can cause morale to drop and productivity to worsen.
As touched upon previously, back injuries can take place when an employee incorrectly lifts the ramp. Even though some trailer ramps have been constructed with lightweight aluminum materials, the majority of them are built with a heavier and more durable steel. Lifting a heavy steel ramp can place a considerable amount of strain on your back while also causing other injuries if the ramp slips out of your hands.
During loading and unloading procedures, adopt safety practices that are centered around paying attention to your surroundings and being cautious. Even if your personnel have received extensive training, being inattentive for just a few seconds could lead to an accident while moving items up or down an elevated surface. It’s also important that the ramp’s surface provides enough traction for you or your employees. Wood tends to have less traction in comparison to serrated steel.
Types of Trailer Ramps
There are numerous types of trailer ramps you can use in your warehouse, the primary of which include:
- Ground-to-dock ramps
- Vehicle display ramps
- Concrete yard ramps
- Deck trailer ramps
- Vehicle loading ramps
- Forklift ramps
- Custom ramps
These ramps are categorized as manual or mechanically operated ramps. A manual ramp is a basic ramp style that comes with steel construction and a few safety accessories. Most ramps are manually operated ramps. However, it’s possible for ramps to be operated hydraulically or with air. All of them can lead to an injury if your employees aren’t paying attention while loading and unloading items.
Ramps are built from either aluminum or steel. There are advantages to both types of materials. For instance, aluminum offers several benefits that aren’t available with steel. Even though aluminum weighs less than steel, it still provides a high amount of durability because of its resistance to corrosion. This resistance makes it ideally suited to outdoor and industrial settings where chemical agents, water, salt, and solvents are prevalent.
Aluminum also offers a high-quality finish. It’s easy to maintain a clean appearance with this material. You can choose to anodize or varnish aluminum. Consider treating the material with one of many different possible coatings to extend its lifespan.
If you’re using a trailer ramp in a hazardous industrial setting that consists of many flammable substances, you might want to use aluminum. This metal won’t spark when it comes into contact with other metals. Aluminum provides sustainability as well. It’s easy to recycle this metal in a way that’s not feasible with steel.
There are, however, several benefits associated with purchasing steel ramps for your facility. The primary advantage of choosing steel is that the metal is stronger, which means that it has a higher maximum weight capacity. If you intend to use forklifts on the ramps in your warehouse, it’s best to purchase steel ramps that accommodate higher weights.
Another benefit of steel is that it’s more affordable. Even though the maintenance requirements are higher with steel ramps, they don’t need to be replaced as often as aluminum ramps, which should save you an ample sum of money.
Manual-operated Ramps: Best Practices
Manually operated ramps are the most common type that you can purchase for your facility. When you transport these ramps from one location to another, you can place them upright, in a holder, or at the back of your trailer. Before you use one of these ramps, there are some best practices you should adhere to.
For one, it’s important to use collaborative lifting whenever you choose to move one of these ramps. It’s always safer for two individuals to lift the ramp together. Even if the ramp is only being moved a short distance, one person trying to move the ramp can lead to a back injury or other issues if the ramp slips.
No matter how many people are lifting the ramp, make sure that proper lifting techniques are followed. During this process, bend your knees and use your legs to correctly lift the ramp. Always maintain a straight back to place less stress on the joints and spine.
While lifting the ramp is important, you should also know how to perform controlled lowering. You can prevent ramp falls and slips by slowly and consistently lowering the ramp to the ground once it’s been moved into position. Set these ramps down gently to avoid hurting another individual who’s still holding the ramp.
When you move a manually operated ramp, avoid getting into a dangerous position. If you aren’t involved in lifting the ramp, you should stand clear of the ramp’s path in the event that other personnel don’t see you. Maintain a safe distance until the ramp has been lowered into position. Most trailer manufacturers install springs to make it easier to place the ramp on the ground or lift it from its current position.
Mechanically Operated Ramps: Safety Measures
If you use one or more mechanically operated ramps, your personnel should be trained on how to maintain the proper safety measures. While mechanically operated ramps that use hydraulics or air should reduce the number of back injuries that occur in your facility, these ramps have their own risks that you should be on the lookout for. Mechanically operated ramps are often extremely heavy, which increases the likelihood that more severe injuries will take place.
To ensure your employees remain safe while using mechanically operated ramps, focus on maintaining system functionality. Regularly check the hydraulic or air systems to determine if any components have been damaged or leaks are present. Whether the ramp uses an air cylinder, hydraulic cylinder, or air bag system, leaks are possible. If you detect an issue, don’t use the ramp until it’s been repaired.
It’s also highly recommended that personnel stand far away from the ramps while the hold-up bars are being removed. Identify the area where the ramp might fall. Make sure that everyone walks well around it until the hold-up bars have been removed. If the ramps are in a transport position, it’s important that you secure them to avoid hazardous conditions.
Smart Safety Practices
While it might appear to be easy to operate ramps, injuries are possible if you or your personnel aren’t paying attention. Ramp operation is straightforward, which is one reason why some people will become overconfident when using the ramp.
Your employees should remain focused and vigilant when they’re using any ramp in your facility. With a focus on safety, you should avoid taking a trip to the doctor’s office or chiropractor. At the end of the day, maintaining smart safety practices in your facility gives your employees more time for leisure activities like fishing or relaxing.
Whether you’re using a portable loading ramp or display ramp, proper use of the ramp is important to ensure that everyone in your facility remains safe and free of injury. If you manage a warehouse or distribution center, place signs and reading materials in the common areas that highlight the most important ramp safety practices. You should also prioritize trailer ramp safety in your daily routine, which will allow these practices to become habits.
Creating a safe working environment is possible once you adopt responsible practices. If you lead by example, you’ll be empowering other individuals in your warehouse to adopt the same techniques. Start implementing safety guidelines today to build a safer and more productive work environment.