Loading zones are high-traffic work areas with many safety hazards. Even for fully-trained employees, bad habits and lapses in best safety practices can be fostered over time — such as using overhead doors without proper caution.
This occurrence increases the risk of an accident even further, leading to severe injury and sometimes death. Fortunately, these accidents are preventable with good safety management. Let’s discuss some essential safety tips for navigating overhead doors in loading zones.
1. Set strict rules
Instead of hoping that everyone exercises common sense, leave nothing to chance and institute strict overhead door operation rules. When common sense fails, definitive rules and consequences are the next best thing. Here are some essential rules you should include:
- Do not stand or walk under a moving door.
- Watch the door until it has finished opening/closing.
- Never leave a door partially open.
- Keep the floor space around the doors open and navigable.
- Do not operate an overhead door while under the influence.
- Wear the proper protective gear when working around overhead doors.
For your employees to take these rules seriously, the consequences of breaking them need to be swift and severe. Don’t be afraid to put your foot down regarding workplace safety. Post signage around the property and hold routine meetings to discuss the rules and why they’re important.
2. Train your employees
Limit the use of your property’s overhead doors to employees who have sufficient training and experience. Others can only use them under close supervision. It might feel silly making new employees operate the doors with someone watching them, but safety is more important than pride.
Implement a detailed training program to ensure your staff knows the best practices for overhead door operation. Make sure you cover these topics:
- Proper vs. improper use
- Accident statistics
- Risk assessments
Training is an ongoing process that requires repetition and periodic check-ins. Keep your employees on their toes with sudden tests and reward them when they succeed. You can offer cool perks, extended breaks, or an extra day off. Showing appreciation for your staff’s improvements will encourage them to continue building their safe work habits.
3. Evaluate loading zone doors
With your staff prepared and organized, you can focus on improving the mechanics of your doors. First, you need to make sure you have the right type of door for the space and application. This detail is essential because the spring system, cables, and other parts can only support so much weight.
Plus, some doors simply don’t align with a business’s operations. They might take too long to open and close, interfering with your staff. The opening could be too small for specific machinery or loads of supplies. Forklifts are particularly hazardous around garage doors and loading zones. There are many potential reasons why your garage door isn’t the optimal size.
Standard overhead garage doors are 32 feet by 2 inches wide and 24 feet by 1 inch high. If these dimensions don’t fit your building or business plan, you should strongly consider switching to a different type of door:
- Roll-up sheet doors: You can find variations of roll-up sheet doors with 18, 20, 22, and 24-gauge sizes.
- Rolling steel doors: These doors have custom sizes and multiple operation options, including a chain hoist, hand crank, or automatic motor.
- Sectional ribbed steel doors: Similar to rolling steel doors, but with a unique ribbed design that gives the doors some flexibility and aesthetic appeal. These qualities might benefit high-traffic garages and warehouses.
- Aluminum/glass transparent doors: Partially see-through doors that filter natural light into the building when closed. This feature is ideal for commercial retail spaces that often keep their doors closed throughout the day.
When it comes to garage doors, one size does not fit all. Evaluate your current garage doors and determine whether you need to make an upgrade. A custom set of doors will make your loading zones safer, more efficient, and more professional.
5. Recognize the telltale signs of damage
You need to be able to recognize the telltale signs of door damage. This ability will enable you to stay proactive and address problems before they lead to an accident. Keep your eye out for these signs:
- Improper spring tension
- Frayed or rusted cables
- Seized roller bearings
- Poorly secured mounting pads
- Debris in the tracks
- Delayed or inconsistent opening and closing
These problems naturally occur from frequent usage. They’re easy to identify and have simple mechanical solutions, so you don’t have any excuse for ignoring them. Nip these issues in the bud to ensure the safety of your staff and the longevity of your garage doors.
6. Schedule regular maintenance
Even if you manage to address the minor issues we discussed, you still need to schedule regular maintenance from a professional technician. Your DIY fixes might be sufficient for the time being, but you probably didn’t cut to the heart of the problem. A pro can identify the source and find a permanent solution.
Communicate with your technician about the health of your doors. Try to learn as much as possible so you can make more informed decisions and keep your doors healthy between maintenance appointments.
Optimize safety in your loading zones
Overhead garage doors are the gateways to your property. They keep your loading zones moving and thus play an integral role in your business’s daily operations. Optimize your loading zones and improve workplace safety by investing in custom overhead doors, doing careful routine maintenance, and instilling safe values into your staff.