OSHA Guidelines for Forklift Traffic on Dock Ramps and Yard Ramps

Loading ramps can be perilous places for forklift operation. So it's no surprise that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has quite a bit to say on the topic. Much of their advice is common sense, but it never hurts to have a refresher and a checklist of requirements for investing in dock ramps.

Dock Ramp (DR)
Dock Ramp (DR)

Some of the more general requirements address ensuring a slow, controlled ascent or descent on the ramp. Here are a few specific requirements:

A good forklift ramp will help you meet all of these requirements and, in turn, keep forklift operators safe and in-control of their heavy loads.

Choosing Dock Ramps That Comply With OSHA Requirements

Whether you need a portable loading ramp that can provide access to trucks in the yard, or a semi-permanent auxiliary ramp for your loading dock, OSHA-compliance begins with picking the right product.

BHS Dock Ramps are 84-inches wide by  feet-long from dock to ground. The ample width allows lift truck drivers to stay firmly in the middle of the ramp. The 8-inch steel curbs keep forklifts from veering off the ramp even when poor steering takes the lift truck too far to one side.

The 30-foot length allows for a steady grade that makes controlled forklift loading or unloading simple. A heavy-duty solid-steel approach plate makes the transition from ground to ramp steady and stable. The open-steel grating on the rest of the ramp increases traction and draining.

Yard Ramps from BHS have a similar build but allow for extra versatility. These portable ramps can be used to unload trucks, replace a broken dock lift, or add an extra dock ramp during peak seasons to avoid bottlenecks.

Yard Ramps are 36-feet long to accommodate an even gentler grade when loading or unloading trucks. Safety chains hold the ramp in place and the same 8-inch steel curbs guard the sides of the ramp.

Ramp OSHA Guidance for Operating Lift Trucks on Ramps and Grades

In addition to their equipment requirements, OSHA has specific instructions for forklift operators. Here are some highlights:

  • Do not turn on an incline.

  • Keep away from the edge of the ramp.

  • Do not use ramps with slopes that exceed the recommended maximum.

  • Always look in the direction you are driving.

Yard Ramp (YR)
Yard Ramp (YR)

Drivers should always carry a load pointed up the incline, even when they are driving down an incline. That means that operators should drive in reverse with their heads turned down the ramp when they are descending with a load.

OSHA also recommends that operators drive in reverse up inclines when they do not have a load. Again, the operator must turn their head to face the direction of travel for maximum safety.

Loading Ramps have inherent dangers, but Dock and Yard Ramps from BHS were designed with safety in mind. In addition to choosing the right equipment, there are many steps a warehouse manager can take to make loading and unloading safer and more OSHA-compliant. Ensuring that forklift operators are well-trained and attentive is a good first step.

Still, it's crucial to rely on heavy-duty ramps with gentle grades and steel curbs. Safe forklift operators and well-designed equipment can help prevent or even eliminate dangerous accidents at the loading dock, which is well-worth the investment.

"29 CFR 1910.178 - Powered industrial trucks." OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2017.
"Understanding the Workplace: Loading Docks." OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2017.
"Understanding the Workplace: Ramps and Grades." OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 11 Oct 2017.