OSHA Guidelines for Forklift Ramps and Warehouse Loading Dock Ramps

Close up on forklift forks | Forklift rampsOSHA’s guidelines for forklift ramp safety are related to speed and maintaining a slow, controlled ascent or descent on the ramp. Specific requirements include:

  • “No ramp or walkway shall be inclined more than a slope of one vertical to three horizontal (20 degrees above the horizontal).”
  • “Grades shall be ascended or descended slowly.”
  • “A safe distance shall be maintained from the edge of ramps…”

In light of the number of accidents on forklifts, OSHA estimates 85 fatal forklift accidents per year as well as 34,900 serious injuries and 61,800 non-serious injuries. This data is supported by the Industrial Truck Association, which estimates there are about 855,900 forklifts in use each day! This suggests that over 11% of all forklifts will be involved in some type of accident each year. All the more reason to take ramp safety seriously in all features of forklift ramp design.

Forklifts are notorious for bottoming out and flipping when they try to drive up a loading ramp. For this reason, OSHA is very particular about how you should properly use them on ramps. However, if you do it correctly, then there won’t be any accidents!

If you would like to learn more about forklift ramps, there’s no better place than Copperloy. Copperloy is a leading manufacturer of yard ramps and other loading dock equipment. Check out their website to see their selection:

Preventing Forklift Ramp Accidents

The ITA reports that the useful life of a lift truck is about 8 years. This means that 90% of all forklifts will be involved in some type of accident during their career,  assuming only one incident per vehicle. If you operate this equipment, there’s a possibility your safety could be compromised at any time due to an unfortunate and unavoidable event on more than one occasion! To reduce the chance of being hurt, it’s important to understand where and how these accidents occur.

The dangers of operating a forklift without proper training have been well-documented. All the more reason an inexperienced driver should not be behind the wheel. No one starts out with innate knowledge about how to operate these machines safely- they must first receive OSHA-mandated training before getting started with their driving career!

Here are the numbers of forklift fatalities by industry and type of accident based on data from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA):

Fatal Accident Type Percentage Where Fatalities Occur Percentage
Crushed by vehicle tipping over 42% Mining 1.2%
Crushed between vehicle and a surface 25% Construction 23.8%
Crushed between two vehicles 11% Manufacturing 42.5%
Struck or run over by a forklift 10% Transportation 11.0%
Struck by falling material 8% Wholesale trades 12.5%
Fall from the platform onto forks 4% Retail trades 9.0%

OSHA Compliance & Keeping Workers Safe

A large loading bay area with one semi truck parked inside | Forklift ramp safetyOSHA compliance is a phrase that many of us hear but do not understand. OSHA sets the guidelines for safety practices on job sites to reduce injuries or fatalities. You could be using your ramp for a wide variety of reasons including creating access from the exterior to the interior of storage facilities or warehouses, getting animals off trailers safely without putting them under stress, or any other situation where vehicles cannot access the ramp. Whether you need a forklift ramp that can provide access to trucks in the shipping yard, or an auxiliary mobile ramp for your loading dock, OSHA compliance begins with picking the best forklift ramp for the job.

You won’t always have the best equipment for every new project, but a reputable ramp manufacturer ought to have resources to make your work easy and effective. If you’re still feeling stuck on how best to get started, try looking at these quick tips below!

Know Your Equipments Capabilities

A good ramp will be strong and sturdy, but they still have their limits. If you exceed the maximum load capacity then it can weaken or even break the ramp.

Secure with Wheel Chocks

Standard ramp features mixed with dock equipment accessories are the recipe for success. Ramp accessories like aluminum wheel chocks prevent dangerous movement during loading or unloading. This tight hold protects against involuntary movements such as sudden jolts and shifting while you’re hard at work!

Unload on a Level Surface

The surface you drive on should be level and sturdy. If possible, park the ramp onto concrete or blacktop to prevent any risk posed by uneven terrain.

Secure Ramp Connection

To make loading tasks as safe as possible, the lip of your ramp should always be resting on a dock or truck. Connecting safety chains is also recommended for extra protection since they can hold up to about 6000 pounds in combined weight before breaking!

Transport at Safe Speeds

A yellow forklift transporting pallets of materials | Forklift ramp safety

Operators should not exceed 5-mph when using the towbar, and this feature is not intended for long-distance towing. Also, the positioning sleeve’s sole purpose adjust and reposition the ramp. Do not attempt to tow the ramp with the positioning sleeve.

Inspect for Damage

It is of great importance to inspect your loading dock and ramp before use. If it has not been inspected in a while, you may find rust or damage that needs attention, which could be an issue down the line for safety. Ensure there are no cracks, dents, or other signs of wear on the surface of the loading dock ramps as well. Regular maintenance on hydraulic fluids for those ramps that use them is just as critical.

Training Benefits Everyone

Training prevents accidents from happening due to unstable loads. Even reminding employees of simple rules like keeping loads as low to the ground as possible can significantly increase safety. If this rule is ignored by drivers due to a distraction, they can minimize the risk of injury so long as they do not jump off the forklift.

The normal tendency is for a person to jump downward, so the driver lands on the floor or ground and into the path of an overhead guard. This can result in lethal blows that break their neck or back. Staying inside the vehicle is how you keep yourself safe!

It is not uncommon for forklift operators to try and jump out of a tipping vehicle. This causes forty-two percent of all fatalities on the job, so it’s best that you remember to keep your load as low as possible to avoid these accidents. Please make sure that you stay with the vehicle if it tips over; wearing a seatbelt will ensure safety while driving and keep you inside should an accident occur!

Choosing a Forklift Ramp that Complies with OSHA Requirements

A green forklift preparing to access a Copperloy forklift rampFor many companies, the time-consuming process of unloading trucks and loading docks can be made more efficient with mobile forklift ramps. These ramps are easy to set up due to their portability, allowing them to stand in for slow dock lifts or act as extra ramps for busy work periods to avoid bottlenecks and downtime at your business.

Regardless of what you need a forklift ramp for, Copperloy is your best resource for loading dock equipment. Their loading dock ramps are 84-inches wide and 30 feet long, allowing lift truck drivers to stay in the middle of the ramp while they drive up and down. The large steel curbs stop forklifts from veering off course, even if you’re steering isn’t so great!

The 30-foot length also allows for a steady grade that makes controlled loading and unloading simple. With a heavy-duty solid steel ramps approach plate, the ramp ensures the transition from the ground to the ramp is steady, stable, and safe. Copperloy’s ramp design also includes an open metal grating on the rest of the ramp, which increases traction and prevents the buildup of water, dirt, snow, and other debris.

Copperloy’s yard ramps are 36-feet long to accommodate an even gentler grade when loading or unloading trucks. Safety chains hold the ramp in place and the same 8-inch steel curbs guard the sides of the ramp, ensuring the safety of those using it.

Want to learn more about forklift ramps? Visit Copperloy’s website to browse a selection of high-quality ramps and other loading dock equipment designed to meet all OSHA laws and regulations, or contact them directly for a quote!

By Published On: July 26, 2021Categories: Safety, Yard Ramp and Loading Dock Equipment

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