Chock Blocks at Work | The Importance of Chocking and Blocking For Safety
Everyday across the country trucks and trailers are loaded and unloaded several times a day. Doing this involves using the correct equipment and a lot of times this will include using chock blocks to prevent vehicles from moving unexpectedly. Unfortunately, chock blocks aren’t always used and too many workers have fallen victim to a sliding or rolling vehicle that started moving when it wasn’t supposed to. This applies to both the drivers of the units and the employees who work around these vehicles. Chock blocks are important and workers need to know how and when to use them to better prevent injuries relating to unexpectedly moving vehicles.
Every year there have been accidents where a vehicle started moving when it was supposed to be still that could have been prevented with chock blocks. This includes drivers who have tried to get out of the cab while the vehicle was moving and ended up getting crushed by their own vehicle, workers who had the misfortune of being in the way of the moving vehicle, and there have even been cases where lift drivers were injured or killed because the forklift they were operating fell in between the the dock edge and a trailer that unexpectedly started moving away. All docking situations should involve chock blocks being used on any trucks or trailers to prevent instances like these from happening. Before ever entering a trailer, drivers should first check and make sure that the wheels have been chock and are securely in place. In a majority of states, OSHA actually requires that the unit wheels be chocked before a forklift can enter it.
Just using chock blocks is not enough though, you need to know how to properly position them so they are actually protecting you. Chock blocks are meant to completely eliminate any movement of the vehicle that is being chocked. If you chock the wheels of a unit and the wheels can still move, even just a little bit, you are not fully protecting yourself from a potential disaster. The best and safest way to chock the wheels of a particular vehicle is to chock the wheels nearest to the dock, especially when dealing with tandem-axle trailers. If the chocks are in the rear, the lift truck entering the trailer will exert downward force which will pin the wheels tighter against the chock. If you chock the front wheels however, you could potentially loosen the chocks when entering the trailer with the lift truck.
When moving shifting loads, it can become very dangerous due to the fact that the loads could possibly shift or completely tip over while being moved. This damages cargo and could even cause the trailer to completely flip over due to the dramatic shift in weight. In these cases, it is sometimes a good idea to use blocking around each individual portion of cargo to prevent shifting and moving. If you do this, make sure the cargo is blocked from moving on all 4 sides. It is also important to be using the correct material. Nails need to be long enough to hold the block in place and the lumber needs to be thick enough to prevent the cargo from shifting or moving without breaking or shattering. NEVER use other freight to block cargo. If the cargo you are blocking looks like it will still move, it probably will. Take the time to ensure that the cargo you are moving is firmly and securely blocked in place. It is not worth having an accident that could cost the company money and possibly injure you in the process.
The correct equipment for chocking and blocking should always be available to you if you regularly work in these types of situations. Loading docks should have chocks that are proven to prevent vehicles from moving and the chock blocks should have a chain or rope for storage so that they don’t get stolen or “disappear” when they are not being used. Don’t underestimate the importance of chock blocks! They are one of the most important tools in preventing vehicle related accidents in the workplace!