Thomas Cocchiola, PE ::::
Case Synopsis: A worker was injured when she inadvertently stepped into a gap while unloading items from a truck. She was unloading at a facility equipped with a dock leveler to bridge the gap between individual trucks and the loading dock platform. The dock leveler platform was extended onto the truck bed before the woman began unloading. The injured worker did not know where she placed her foot, but recalled her leg went into a gap all the way up to her thigh. It was alleged that a deficiency in the dock leveler installation contributed to the accident.
Engineering Analysis: An engineering analysis was conducted to determine whether the dock leveler installation created hazardous conditions or if the equipment arrangement could have caused or contributed to the accident. Technical information demonstrated that the dock leveler was installed in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and specifications. The engineering analysis confirmed the dock leveler installation did not create hazardous conditions that could have, or would have, contributed to the accident. In particular, the gaps between the dock leveler components were simply too small to fit a foot or leg. The worker apparently stepped into an opening that was unrelated to the dock leveler.
Result: The analysis concluded that the dock leveler installation could not have contributed to the accident. Case resolved. (Thomas Cocchiola, PE can be reached at 215-659-2010 or via email at experts@forensicDJS.com)