Warehouse & Distribution Center Safety

APS Safety Challenges


Regardless of which kinds of threats your warehouse or distribution center (DC) faces — whether it’s a cybersecurity attack or severe weather event— keeping your personnel safe and protected is a major concern that never takes a break.

This is also true for any condition that might be present in your facility that could potentially contribute to a fall-related accident, whether an employee is on foot or driving a forklift.

Fall protection is critical for equipment and employees

One of the most often overlooked danger areas in a warehouse or DC is the open loading dock door. In fact, the loading dock is the most dangerous place in a warehouse or DC accounting for 25% of annual accidents. Any time a loading dock door is open without a trailer present and secured, that poses a real and present safety hazard.

In a fast-paced warehouse or DC environment, accidents can happen quickly and unexpectedly. That’s why it’s so important to have fall protection equipment in place at each dock opening to not only protect your equipment but most importantly, your employees.

OSHA’s “walking-working surface” ruling 

Approximately 3-1/2 years ago, the Department of Labor’s OSHA issued a final rule concerning new walking-working surface standards that included what it defines as “dockboards”, which also applies to dock levelers. At the time the new standard was implemented, OSHA estimated it would prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,800 injuries annually.

Because OSHA rules such as this are not updated very often, and since so much time has passed since the ruling took effect, it’s important to revisit and remember the following:

Dockboards (includes dock levelers) are considered a walking-working surface and require a fall protection system to keep warehouse and DC employees safe from injury.

Thanks to OSHA, its Standard 1910 Subpart D includes several important guidelines in place that serve as benchmarks for fall protection safety. This applies especially to 1910.28 – Duty to have fall protection and falling object protection and 1910.29 – Fall protection systems and falling object protection-criteria and practices.

However, be advised that OSHA violations can lead to steep fines as a result. It’s well worth your while to pay careful attention and follow what the standards have to say.

For more information on OSHA’s walking-working surface standards, you can check out the following links:

Key terms and definitions

To help standardize industry terminology, OSHA 1910.21 – Scope and definitions, contains several key terms as defined by OSHA that are important to dock safety and specifically fall protection. They include:

Dockboard a portable or fixed device that spans a gap or compensates for a difference in elevation between a loading platform and a transport vehicle. Dockboards include, but are not limited to, bridge plates, dock plates, and dock levelers.

Fall hazard – any condition on a walking-working surface that exposes an employee to a risk of harm from a fall on the same level or to a lower level.

Fall protection – any equipment, device, or system that prevents an employee from falling from an elevation or mitigates the effect of such a fall.

Walking-working surface – any horizontal or vertical surface on or through which an employee walks, works or gains access to a work area or workplace location.

Hoist area any elevated access opening to a walking-working surface through which equipment or materials are loaded or received.

Where should you start?

As you evaluate your facility’s compliance with OSHA’s walking-working surface rule, and if you find that your facility is lacking the proper solutions, consider examining three areas: fall protection equipment, communication systems, and lighting.

Fall protection equipment

Again, because the loading dock is the most dangerous place in a warehouse or DC, falls due to open dock doors can be prevented with equipment like a Dock Impact Barrier or Dual Chain which are suited for warehouses and DCs of all sizes.

Our Dock Impact Barrier is the best-of-the-best in the industry when it comes to fall protection, meets all OSHA safety requirements, and is capable of stopping 10,000 lbs. at four mph.

Dual Chain is our newest fall protection product and was developed as a solution that could provide OSHA-required 200 lbs. of force in any direction protection for pedestrians at the most cost-effective price. Its safety chain and turnbuckle design make it easy for employees to deploy and tighten the chain as needed.

Communication systems

Visual communication systems such as our Impact-A-Track LED or APS & GO™ LED Safety Light System help to increase the amount of communication between a truck driver and warehouse employees to prevent accidents at the loading dock caused by events such as early departure.

Impact-A-Track LED is a great safety solution for any loading dock. Its high-visibility LED lights signal to warehouse employees when it’s safe to enter or exit the trailer and protects door tracks from damage.

Also, our S.W.A.T.™ (Secondary Warning Alert Technology) safety system can be added on to most dock lights with a restraint system to provide additional communication to employees inside a loading trailer.


Improving visibility and lighting inside of a trailer using the APS Resource Tactical LED Dock Light (with built-in S.W.A.T.) also makes it easier and safer for employees to move in and out of the trailer quickly and efficiently.

The Tactical LED Dock Light is our first lighting system with S.W.A.T. safety technology directly built-in (optional as a standalone upgrade). The innovative light can communicate to a fork truck driver in the trailer if the restraint alarm has been engaged. No other lighting system on the market is capable of providing this extra layer of safety for employees in a trailer.

APS Resource provides real solutions

APS Resource has more than 20 years of experience dedicated to the warehouse, DC and loading dock industry. We’ve always been at the forefront of solving issues and providing solutions thanks to a great team working hard behind the scenes.

Our expert knowledge, partnered with our best-in-industry distributor network, enables us to evaluate individual sites for their unique needs to provide adaptable recommendations and efficient solutions.

Ultimately, it’s the trust behind the performance of our current products, coupled with our innovative approach to determine future solutions, that instill the importance and promotion of safety in warehouse and DC facilities across the U.S.