Jack Stands and Wheel Chocks Tips

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Why are standards set for material handling equipment such as jack stands?

Standards for Jack Stand Equipment

Whether you are buying a 12-ton jack stand, 6-ton jack stand or 3-ton jack stand, you will see that material handling equipment such as jack stands can meet standards set by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). But what does that mean exactly?

According to ASME, standards set for equipment promote safety, reliability, productivity and efficiency. Standards can run from a few paragraphs to hundreds of pages, and are written by experts with knowledge and expertise in a particular field who sit on many committees. Standards are considered voluntary because they serve as guidelines, but do not of themselves have the force of law. ASME cannot force any manufacturer, inspector, or installer to follow ASME standards. Their use is voluntary. Standards become mandatory when they have been incorporated into a business contract or incorporated into regulations. So why have standards?

  • Standards are a vehicle of communication for producers and users
  • They serve as a common language, defining quality and establishing safety criteria
  • Costs are lower if procedures are standardized
  • Training is simplified
  • Interchangeability. It is not uncommon for a consumer to buy a nut in California for a bolt purchased in New Jersey

What safety products are on the market for wheel chocks?

Wheel Chock Safety

Are you worried about someone stealing your wheel chocks? Do you fear a worker might misplace a chock? Do you want to ensure your employees are in compliance with OSHA and use the chocks? If so, there are chock safety products such as signs and chains built to put your mind at ease.

There are security chains available for wheel chocks that are 10, 12 and 15-feet long. You can also have them custom made. The chains come with attachment links and dock anchors. Chain your chocks to your dock and help prevent misplacement and theft.

Purchase a safety sign that says "Caution: Truck Wheels Must Be Chocked" to ensure your employees are in compliance with OSHA. The signs measure 10-by-14 inches and are in safety yellow with bold black lettering. The signs have four holes for easy mounting as well.

What does a trailer jack stand do?

About the Trailer Jack Stand

The trailer jack stand is a steel piece of material handling equipment that helps support the front end of a semi trailer during loading and unloading when no tractor is coupled to the trailer, according to beacontechnology.com.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)'s stance on trailer jacks is "fixed jacks may be necessary to support a semi trailer and prevent upending during the loading or unloading when the trailer is not coupled to a tractor."

Economy trailer jack stands are available with or without wheels. This jack stand has a static capacity of 50,000 pounds and a lifting capacity of 5,000 pounds. It has a spin top for height adjustment and can weigh 45 to 60 pounds.

What types of wheel chocks are on the market?

Wheel Chocks Come in Many Varieties

Wheel chocks ensure trucks remain secure in dock areas and help prevent load shifts during loading and unloading. There are many different kinds of wheel chocks. Here is a sampling of them, courtesy of beacontechnology.com:

  • Trailer wheel chock: ideal for helping ensure that trucks remain secure in dock areas. Features a safety tread on the chock face, providing excellent grip
  • Removable wheel chock: helps secure trucks in dock locations.These chocks weigh between 10 and 26 pounds. They feature a textured treadplate for optimum traction and an open-face radius that enables the chock to be used with tires of any size. They have a saw-tooth bottom to aid in traction and they are effective on concrete as well as in sand or mud.
  • Aluminum wheel chock: vital in securing trucks in dock areas. They are lightweight and help prevent wheel load shifts while the truck is being loaded and unloaded
  • Rail car chocks: include a double-sided flange to help keep the rail chock on the track. Rail car chocks will fit most standard-sized rails. Four steel spurs, which are on the bottom of the rail chock, maximize a positive grip
  • Rubber wheel chock: can be used with truck restraints as an additional safety measure. Provides sure grip on virtually any surface

What are the safety issues with jack stands?

Jack Stand Safety

When jack stands are used, there are two basic safety issues. The first is paying attention the load rating of the jack stand. Like any other device built to handle weight and bulk, it's vital to respect the load rating of your equipment. Load ratings are an obvious safety factor, but a lesser-known safety issue involves securing the jack stands. Never use wire or rope to connect two jack stands. Always use a safety chain instead.

Rope can fray and become brittle, wire simply won't stand up to the job if the weight or pressure becomes too much. Some are tempted to use jack stands even if signs of wear (cracks are a serious warning sign) are evident. Do not use a jack stand that is in poor condition, and never use a makeshift replacement for a jack stand until you can get around to replacing it. It's far safer to delay a load or unload until you can get the right equipment for the job. It also avoids serious liability issues.

How can I best utilize wheel chocks?

Wheel Chock Use

To properly use wheel chocks, it's important to remember a few basic guidelines:

  1. Always use chocks in pairs, especially if you are unsure of the slope of a roadway, parking area, or other terrain. It's often a good idea to purchase chocks that are connected one to another.
  2. Always place the chocks snugly against the tires, and beware wet surfaces that can allow chocks to slip under the wrong conditions.
  3. If you are parked on an oily surface, move the vehicle to a safer spot, if possible.
  4. Never drive over chocks, or try to apply chocks if the parking brake has not been applied.
  5. Remember that improper use of chocks can void warranties, insurance, and compliance to safety regulations.

What about capacities for the jack stand?

The Trailer Jack Stand, Part Two

There are two different types of capacity with regard to the trailer jack stand:

  • The static capacity, or how much weight the jack stand is rated to hold simply sitting there and;
  • The lifting capacity, which is how much weight the jack stand is rated to actually hoist as it is extended.

Don't confuse the two! A serious issue with the trailer jack stand is that over time, the capacity rating of the trailer jack stand may become illegible due to wear, dirt, repainting, etc. An unmarked trailer jack stand can be overloaded and collapse. It's best to stencil the capacities of your trailer jack stand into the stand for maximum readability.

How can I insure compliance with OSHA wheel chock regulations during loading and unloading of trucks and trailers?

Wheel Chocks And Dock Compliance

Wheel chocks are required by OSHA, and in order to be in compliance you will have to insure that every truck that comes into the dock area is chocked during the unloading or loading process. If you are relying on the honor system after having posted signage and providing chocks, you are taking a serious risk. Not all operators are equally conscientious, and a few bad apples will take advantage of reduced visibility in the dock area to avoid the additional hassle of placing the chocks. Doing so puts your company at risk, and you will need to take additional measures to enforce compliance with OSHA regulations.

Strategically placed cameras are an excellent incentive for an operator to comply, but many companies are unwilling to invest in expensive camera systems. Fortunately, a strategically placed mirror and an observant dockworker can get the same job done as a camera. No matter which solution is best for you, compliance is the key to avoiding liability.

Should I buy an extended warranty for my jack stands?

Jack Stands And Warranties

Jack stands often come with an option to purchase additional warranty coverage. This coverage offers replacement in case jack stands are damaged in the normal line of work, which can include a dropped stand or other typical problems. Be sure to read the fine print, as many of these warranties are voided if the jack stands are subject to abuse. The definition of abuse can include loading a jack stand beyond its rated capacity, using it for a task not specified, or other conditions. Another thing to remember; many of these extended warranties only cover a one-time replacement. The extra cost of some extended warranties can be as high as half the original value of the original purchase. Weigh your needs carefully before making the extra investment, and don't violate the warranty, or your money is wasted.

When would I need a rubber or aluminum chock?

Wheel Chocks--Extra Safety In The Dock

There are hundreds of uses for wheel chocks; everything from trucks to military aircraft to rail cars. Wheel Chocks prevent accidental movement or slippage of heavy vehicles. This is especially important during loading and unloading--the shifting weight can affect wheel placement unless chocks are used to stabilize the vehicle.

Use chocks along with truck restraints in dock areas for an added safety measure. There are many different sizes and materials to choose from--you may wish to use the rubber chocks when dealing with certain conditions--especially cold or wet areas, or the aluminum chocks in other situations including an indoor garage or warehouse situation where cold temperatures are not an issue.

When am I required to use wheel chocks

Why Wheel Chocks?

Did you know that military cargo planes are chocked on the runway? Conventional wisdom would suggest that such a massive piece of military hardware would have a parking brake that is more than adequate to do the job, but the fact is, it's standard procedure to take no chances with military aircraft. The same mentality should apply to your operation. Any time trucks or other heavy equipment are required to be parked, and/or raised (especially trailers and truck beds) you should invest an extra few seconds to place chocks for the additional safety factor.

Do you know what the U.S. Department of Labor guidelines are for wheel chocks? A truck or trailer must be equipped with them (rear wheels only) for any use at a loading dock, unless mechanical means are used to prevent the truck or trailer from moving during an unload or loading procedure. Chocks may be optional safety features for a crane, forklift, or dump truck, but for trailers and trucks, they are mandatory if there is no mechanical assistance to prevent trailer creep.

Who needs training on trailer jack stand use and related loading/unloading issues?

Trailer Jack Stands Reduce Tipping Hazards

According to OSHA guidelines, trailers which are unattached should be stabilized by two trailer jack stands, which helps minimize tipping hazards. It's important to know that spotted or dropped trailers are more susceptible to "trailer creep".

Loading/Unloading operations can cause shifting weight in the trailer and you will need the trailer jack stands to insure stability for the duration of the load or unload. When you are creating your safety requirements in this area, remember to train anyone who may come within range of this operation, not just those in the immediate area. Many workplace injuries occur because employees aren't familiar with certain areas.

Why use wheel chocks on stationary equipment?

Chock Your Equipment!

Trailer wheel chocks are required by the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for all loading and unloading operations. Additionally, the use of trailer wheel chocks is an excellent backup for other dock safety devices.

You may wish to put trailer wheel chocks on any trailer not in use at the moment as an added safety measure. The trailer wheel chock is an investment that will increase workplace safety. Better safe than sorry!

What's the advantage of rubber chocks?

Rubber Wheel Chocks

The advantage of a set of rubber wheel chocks is obvious to anyone who has ever picked up an aluminum chock in freezing temperatures. Rubber is weatherproof, scratch resistant, and best of all, doesn't freeze your hands when you pick it up in the cold!

A rubber wheel chock is designed to be non-slip, and chocks are required by OSHA to be used with rail cars and trucks during unloading. If you are considering a set of chocks, compare the price of the rubber wheel chock with those made of other materials. You may also wish to look at the list of rubber wheel chock accessories, including hanging chains, and 'warning' signs for the workplace.

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