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3 min read


Loading Dock Safety - Dock Locks Vs. Wheel Chocks

Loading Dock Safety - Dock Locks Vs. Wheel Chocks

Quick quiz: when a truck pulls into your loading dock, who is responsible for correctly securing the vehicle? The truck driver or your employees? 

If someone gets hurt, the question of "Who could have prevented this tragedy?" is an important one. According to EHS Today:

  • 1 in 4 industrial accidents occur at the loading dock
  • For every accident, there are 600+ near misses

If you have a dock lock or other automated trailer restraint system in place, you don’t have to worry about who's job it was to set the wheel chocks. When the restraint system is used and maintained correctly, the truck is secure.


To answer the question posed above, your business is liable for securing the vehicle and for any injuries that occur:

  • In the "drop zone" when team members are loading or unloading a vehicle
  • Or while placing wheel chocks

Loading Dock Accident Statistics

As mentioned above, 25% of industrial accidents occur at the loading dock. In the past 12 months, at least ten workers have been killed and dozens more seriously hurt because they were struck by a vehicle or trailer at a loading dock. Caught-between and vehicle backing incidents are two of the top four leading causes of death in the workplace.

Forklift operators are also at risk. A common cause of serious injury (and often death) for forklift operators is when the forklift falls through the gap between the dock and the back of the trailer. This gap opens up because of trailer creep or because the truck driver pulls away prematurely (wheel chocks are often placed incorrectly, and the truck driver can easily roll over them). 

The average cost of a forklift fall-through incident is $191,000 ($41,000 average medical cost* + $75,000 replacement forklift + $75,000 building repair = $191,000). 

* The medical cost assumes the forklift operator survives; many do not.

The most gut-wrenching stat of all? The vast majority of loading dock injuries and deaths are preventable — by using a dock lock.

Does OSHA Require Dock LOcks?

The simple answer is: no, dock locks are not required by OSHA, only wheel chocks. But the complete answer is more complicated.

  • Wheel chocks are often used improperly and require employees to put themselves in harm’s way. 
  • OSHA will hold a company responsible for inadequate safety measures at the loading dock, which may include: lack of training on how to use wheel chocks, missing wheel chocks and/or lack of enforcement — evidenced by chocks so clean it's clear they've never been used. 

Are you 100% confident your team uses wheel chocks correctly every time? Some managers incorrectly believe the truck driver is responsible for chocking the vehicle, but this is not always the case.  

Why take the chance? Trailer restraint systems automatically engage which means trucks get in and out faster while keeping your employees safe. There’s no reason to put your associates and company reputation at risk. A trailer restraint system protects your team members, prevents damage and improves productivity.

Loading Dock Safety Essentials: Traffic Lights and Dock Locks

Automated vehicle restraint systems, also known as dock locks, significantly reduce:

  • The risk of physical injury to your employees
  • Opportunities for equipment, product and property damage
  • Downtime due to a preventable incident


Need one more reason to invest in a trailer restraint system? Ask your insurance company. Because truck restraints are one of the best ways to prevent tragic and costly industrial incidents, some insurance companies reward companies for using them.

Loading Dock Traffic LIghts

Many trailer restraint systems come with stop and go lights. These exterior lights make it easy for the driver to know whether to go ahead or stay put. 

Loading dock traffic lights, like the ones shown in the video below, are an inexpensive way to enhance safety on both sides of the dock door.


The best loading dock safety lights for your operation will depend on your hours of operation (daytime business hours vs. 24/7) and the type of weather you get (bright sun, snow, etc.). Below is a list of the lights featured in the video above by order of appearance.

Not sure what you need? Just ask. We're happy to make recommendations:

LED Stop & Go Corner Lights

  • Position above the dock door to reduce blind spot errors
  • Integrates with professionally installed dock restraint systems
  • Long-life LED's eliminate replacement costs
  • Easy installation 
  • 5-year warranty

LED Loading Dock Guide Light Set

  • Help the driver align the trailer with the dock door safely and accurately
  • 100 LEDs easily visible in daytime
  • Great for low-light environments
  • Weatherproof polycarbonate amber housing
  • Long-life LEDs
  • 5-year warranty

Rotating Beacon

  • Compact and economical 
  • Two bulb styles: LED or incandescent. 
  • Magnet mount option available
  • Two-wire hookup
  • Available in red, amber, blue, green or clear 

LED Stop & Go Light 

  • Durable Polycarbonate housing will not rust, pit or dent
  • Sun visors enhance visibility, even in direct sunlight
  • Use with Guide Light Set for a simple and reliable safety system

Red and Green LED Linear Lights 

  • Use inside or outside 
  • Easily fits between close-sitting docks 
  • Combine with Stop & Go Corner Lights for full-coverage door signaling


Our experienced and friendly safety experts can help you choose the right vehicle restraint system and safety lighting for your loading dock. We’ll take the time to get to know your business and recommend a solution tailored to your location and budget.

The Lilly Company is an authorized dealer for Blue Giant and NOVA vehicle restraints. We're proud to serve local businesses throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and eastern Arkansas.

Contact a safety expert at The Lilly Company online or by phone 844-LILLYCO (1-844-545-5926) with any questions you have. We also invite you to visit us at one of our 13 locations across the Mid-South.

Arkansas - Jonesboro
Alabama - Birmingham, Dothan, Irondale, Madison, Mobile, and Montgomery
Mississippi - Tupelo and Richland
Tennessee - Jackson, Memphis, Knoxville, and Kingsport

Related Reading
5 Simple Ways To Improve Loading Dock Safety & Efficiency
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