Truck Drivers: Five Safety Tips for Using Liftgates

A liftgate is an incredibly convenient tool for loading and unloading a truck. However, without the right safety precautions, working with a liftgate can be dangerous. Protect yourself, your employees and everyone else in the area with these five tips:

1. Choose the right liftgate for your truck.

Safety starts when you are choosing the liftgate. Look carefully at its specs. Make sure it is compatible with the height of your truck both when empty and when laden with a load.

Also, check the weight capacity requirements, and compare them to your typical load sizes. Finally, make sure the lift is wide enough to accommodate the types of dollies or forklifts you use to load, and make sure the liftgate offers the safety features mentioned below as well.

2. Use a remote control to raise and lower the liftgate.

When operating the liftgate, use a remote control to lower and raise it. A remote keeps you safely out of the way so you avoid smashed toes, trapped fingers or other potential injuries.

3. Engage cart stops when loading.

Cart stops are simple mechanical devices on your liftgate. When you are pushing a load up the gate, the stops simply yield under the pressure, fall forward and let you pass. However, they do not allow the cart to roll back down the ramp.

If you or anyone else loading the truck loses the handle of a dollie, the cart stops prevent it from rolling down the ramp and hurting someone. When you are unloading the truck, disengage the cart stops.

4. Use winches while unloading.

Unfortunately, cart stops cannot help while you are unloading a truck using a liftgate, but winches can help. You need to ensure you don't lose control of heavy loads and let them rush down the liftgate, potentially hurting someone or damaging the fright.

To do that, use a band winch. Secure it to a bar inside the truck, wrap the band around the freight and lower it slowly by gently adding slack to the winch band.

5. Use safety gear when using liftgates in traffic.

In some cases, you may need to use your liftgate in traffic. For example, if you are unloading a truck next to a restaurant on a busy street or if you are loading your truck near a receiving door at a store with a busy car park, you need to take safety precautions regarding the traffic.

Before lowering the liftgate, surround the area with safety cones. Also, have drivers and anyone else loading the trucking wear safety gear for visibility.