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Floor Sweeper and Scrubber Safety around Loading Docks

Dock Safety, Don't let your Floor Scrubber/Sweeper Fall Off

By Rick Schott Circle the author on Google+

In my 25 years of selling floor cleaning equipment I have received the following phone call at least 20 times: “Can you come over here and take a look at our floor scrubber?  Someone drove it off the loading dock last night”.  Hard to believe, but I just got that same call today and thought it was time to share some simple common sense ideas to help prevent this from happening. 


Most of these accidents seem to occur when operators bring a piece of floor cleaning equipment out on a dock leveling plate.  Driving a scrubber or sweeper out on a dock plate without a truck backed up to it is never a good idea.  A few simple rules to follow would be:

  • Never dump the recovery tank from a floor scrubber (rider or walk behind) from the edge of a loading dock.  Many of the accidents I have seen occurred when the dock leveling plate unexpectedly drops and the scrubber simply rolls off.  Metal dock plates also become slippery when wet. 
  • Never dump a sweeper with a hydraulic high dump hopper into a dumpster that is situated down in a loading dock.  I saw an accident years ago where an operator actually drove the sweeper off the edge of the dock right into the dumpster itself!  It sounds kind of funny but in reality the guy was lucky he wasn’t crushed or decapitated by the 3000 pound machine he was driving.
  • Clean dock plates only when a truck is backed up to them.  Some newer dock plates have built in gates that are substantial enough to stop a scrubber or forklift from going over the edge.  Most do not.
  • Do not scrub or sweep down the edge of any loading dock or rail siding if possible.  It is so easy to misjudge a turn and get one wheel off the edge.  The rest of the machine often follows.
  • Dumping waste water from a scrubber off a loading dock could also be a problem with the EPA or local municipal waste water plants.  Many loading docks have a sewer at the bottom that feeds into storm water sewage pipes.  These drains are not sanitary sewers and in most cases are for rain water run off only.

Please take a minute to speak to your equipment operators to make sure they are applying common sense when it comes to operating your sweeper or scrubber near a loading dock or rail siding in your facility.  Unfortunately in my career I have seen operators killed and severely injured in needless accidents involving loading docks.  All of them could have been prevented with some simple training.

By Rick Schott

Circle the author on Google+.


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