The Dangers Of Dock Shock, Trailer Drop

Spot the warning signs and take action to address these dangerous conditions.


Seal and bumper wear: The more a trailer moves up and down, the more the trailer rubs against loading dock seals and bumpers. Look for excessive seal and bumper wear and tear as a potential sign of trailer drop. Rite-Hite estimates the cost for repairs to a single dock seal as a result of trailer movement can be as high as $2,000.

Increased costs: As a lift truck enters a trailer, fragile loads can be damaged, or fall off the pallet if not properly secured. Driving forklifts over steeply inclined levelers and bumpy terrain and into unstabilized trailers also accelerates wear on brakes, tires, transmission, steering axle and other components. If product damage and forklift maintenance costs are inordinately high, consider whether dock shock and trailer drop are factors.

Addressing The Issue

If dock shock and/or trailer drop is suspected, have a trained loading dock equipment representative inspect the dock situation to assess the severity of the problems and the risk involved.

An analysis of loading dock equipment is also in order. A properly chosen system can help prevent dock shock and trailer drop. Some levelers, for example, feature a specially designed rear hinge to create a smooth transition between the warehouse floor and the leveler. These same levelers also use a two-point crown control on the front lip hinge to smooth out the transition from the leveler to the truck bed. The design has also been extended to high-capacity levelers, smoothing out the ride where it’s needed even more—with heavy loads.

Also available are vehicle restraints that are specifically designed to address trailer drop. The restraint supports the rear of the trailer during the loading and unloading process, which minimizes both vertical and horizontal trailer movement.

Given the safety implications associated with dock shock and trailer drop, safety managers and facility decision-makers should be aware of these issues and take appropriate steps to correct them.

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