Not Heavy Enough

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Q: At the warehouse, I was assigned to use our new dock leveler.  That is a mechanical platform – a ramp between the loading dock and the bed of the tractor trailer.  When not in use, the dock leveler is flat and part of the loading-dock floor.  When in use, it rises to match the height of the tractor-trailer bed.  That way, forklifts and pallet trucks can move in and out of the trailer.

Once activated, a hinged lip at the edge of the platform moves up, in order to meet the trailer bed.  The operator then walks towards the edge of the platform.  Her weight is supposed to force the platform down, until the lip catches the trailer floor.

I was not heavy enough to force the platform of the new leveler down to the trailer bed without standing on the hinged lip itself.  So I was standing on the hinged lip as it made contact with the trailer bed.  Unbeknownst to me, the driver had not finished parking, and no ‘chocks’ were in place.  I remained standing on the hinged lip for a split second after completing my walk down.  But at that very moment, the driver began to move his truck forward.  Without the support of the trailer bed, the lip fell, and so did I – onto the cement.

A: Your lawyer will make the winning argument that this dock leveler created a substantial risk of harm as normally used.  The hinged lip collapses if not supported, and yet the lip is an extension of the platform that the operator must walk down in order to adjust the leveler to the correct height.  This lip posed a risk to operators that could not be avoided simply by cautious operation.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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