A loading dock or loading bay is an area of a building where goods vehicles (usually road or rail) are loaded and unloaded. They are commonly found on commercial and industrial buildings, and warehouses in particular.
Loading docks may be exterior, flush with the building envelope, or fully enclosed. They are part of a facility’s service or utility infrastructure, typically providing direct access to staging areas, storage rooms, and freight elevators
There can be very serious accidents on loading bays. One example is trailer creep (also known as trailer walk, or dock walk), which occurs when the lateral and vertical forces exerted each time a forklift truck enters and exits the trailer cause the trailer to slowly move away from the dock, resulting in separation from the dock leveler. Factors that affect trailer creep are the weight and speed of the lift truck and load, the gradient of the ground the trailer is parked on, the condition of the suspension, tire air pressures, the type of transition being used (dock levelers, dock boards), and whether the trailer has been disconnected or if it is still connected to the tractor.
Separation of a vehicle from the loading dock also occurs when a driver prematurely pulls away while the truck is still being loaded/unloaded. This issue is usually caused through a driver not correctly observing traffic lighting signals on a loading bay which prohibit the movement of the trailer. It is also important to ensure that drivers are adequately trained on the safe system of work (s)he is expected to follow.
In different parts of the world, a section of a public or private road may be allocated for loading goods or persons, at specific or at all times. There are parking signs and/or road markings to warn motorists of parking regulations. These areas are known as loading zones or loading bays in many jurisdictions. They are generally monitored by parking inspectors, and vehicles found to be violating the rules can be towed or fined