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Dockboard Safety Tips | Learn When to Replace Your Dockboard

By Loading Dock Expert on 01 Jun 2021 In

Dockboards are designed to bridge the gap between delivery trucks and your warehouse to withstand frequent cargo transfers and they are equipped with an assortment of safety features to ensure reliable usage.

At Overhead Door Co. of Central Jersey, we carry a variety of sturdy and durable loading dockboards to make your loading and unloading process easier and safer. 

Aluminum Dockboard in New JerseyDockboards by Koke, Inc.

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Safety Tips

1. Pick the Proper Size
- Length: To determine the proper length of your dockboard, you will need to know the height differential (altitude of the highest trailer minus the dock height) and the type of loading equipment being used.
- Width: For width, we recommend a dockboard to be at least 12 inches wider than the overall size of the equipment or pallet used, as wider boards increase maneuverability. 

2. Make Sure Your Dockboard Can Support the Weight
We recommend determining the minimum capacity of your dockboard by multiplying the capacity of the highest capacity vehicle to be used on it by three. You should make sure that your dockboard is capable of supporting the maximum intended load. This includes not only the weight of the load but material handling equipment like forklifts and the employees that will be handling it. 

3. Prepare The Loading Area
Secure the unloading area by following these rules:
- Dockboards should only be used when the wheel chocks/dock locks and truck/trailer restraints are in place, or else the truck and trailer may shift during loading.
- Ensure the dockboard is centered and that locking legs and span locks are secure. 

4. Don’t Try To Lift It by Yourself
Workers should never try to move a dockboard by themselves. For that reason, it’s best practice to follow the buddy system and use team-lifting techniques to prevent injury. Many dockboards come equipped with lifting handles to help with manual raise and some even have lifting eyes for forklift lifting.

5.  Inspect Your Dockboard Before Each Use
If you do find a problem during your inspection, do not use the dockboard. Inspect your dockboard thoroughly to ensure it’s safe to use. This includes checking for any signs of damage such as cracks, missing nuts or bolts, faulty locking legs/span locks, or disfigured side curbs. 

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Suggested Article: What Is a Dock Leveler?

Steel Dockboard in New JerseyDockboard (Dock Board)

When to Replace a Dockboard?

While dockboards are designed to be durable, it's important to recognize that even the most heavy-duty dockboards must be replaced at some point. 

Top Three Signs That You May Need to Replace Your Dockboard:

1. Your Dockboard Is Flattened or Warped
Over time, the steel or aluminum structure of your dockboard will begin to flatten or warp with continued cargo transfers. Once your board has flattened or the shape has warped, it is in danger of breaking. Stress fractures, or miniature cracks, may appear on your board as a result. You should stop using your dockboard immediately if you notice that it has flattened or warped, or you detect any stress cracks no matter how small they are.

2. Side Curbs Are Detaching
Side curbs are either welded to the body of the dockboard or bolted together to allow the dockboard to flex for maximum longevity. These are a central component of their weight distribution and without them, the structural integrity of your dockboard is compromised. When inspecting your dockboard, make sure the side curbs are present and secure, the welding is still bonded, and that no nuts or bolts are loose or missing. The key difference between dock plates and dockboard is that structural side curbs provide strength for carrying heavy weights and helps prevent equipment run-off during the loading process.

3. Faulty Auxiliary Structures
Before use, verify that the bolts or welding that attach the steel legs to the body of the dockboard are secure. Likewise, make sure the locking pins are in good condition. If these components are not soundly attached, your dockboard can shift during loading. Lastly, verify that lifting handles and forklift chains are secure, this will ensure no accidents occur when your dockboard is being transported.

While it may be obvious to check for cracks and inspect side curbs, auxiliary structures like steel legs and locking pins are often overlooked and they help to maintain your safety by securing your dockboard firmly in place during the loading and unloading process. Our dockboards come with a variety of auxiliary structures to ensure your loading process goes safely and efficiently.

Remember: Be Safe & Inspect Your Dockboard Before Each Use!

The cost of a new dockboard pales in comparison to the costs associated with a workplace accident. When it comes to dockyard safety, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you inspect your dockyard thoroughly before each use. If you find any sign of damage, it’s important to trust your gut and not use it.

Need help picking out the right dockboard, dock plate or dock leveler for your business? Contact Overhead Door Co. of Central Jersey. We have been ensuring the safety of warehouses across the Central Jersey area for over 48+ years.

If you’re interested in speaking with one of our knowledgeable reps about any of our commercial overhead doors, industrial overhead doors and/or loading dock products, call us at 908-722-5785 or email us at 

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