When we talk about commercial door installation, maintenance and repair for our loading docks, we’re usually thinking about the giant rollup overhead doors that let us move inventory in and out of the warehouse. And maybe we also think about the person-sized exterior steel security doors that usually flank the overhead doors. But another commercial door that is integral to loading dock procedures are the trailer doors on the freight trucks that carry all that inventory. After all, they’re just as important as all the other loading dock doors, even though they’re always on the move. So what kind are there? What are the dangers of both? And how do we make sure our employees stay safe while moving all that freight back and forth?

Truck Trailer Doors: Swing vs Rollup Doors

The most common kind of trailer doors are swing doors. They’re designed just like barn house doors; they meet in the middle and swing out. Pros of this type of trailer door? Maximum opening space. Cons? All the extra space the doors take up when they’re swung out. And that whole thing where you can’t back the truck up directly against the loading dock because of the swing doors. Another “and”: standing clear of swing trailer doors is a bit difficult considering all the locks and latches right in the middle of the back of the truck, where they meet.

The other type of truck trailer door is a rollup door. These were introduced to freight trucks in the 1950’s, and they’re just what they sound like: overhead trailer doors made of thin steel slats that roll up against the ceiling of the trailer. Cons to this type of trailer door is that you lose a bit of opening space where the rollup door sits overhead. Pros? A bunch. Simpler locking and latching, easier operation without having to be in the direct line of fire for any inventory that may have come loose in travel. Not to mention that you can safely back the truck up right against the loading dock – no need for a leveler. This isn’t to say this type of overhead trailer door doesn’t have its own potential dangers, but generally rollup truck trailer doors are safer, more convenient, and have less exposed moving parts that need upkeep.

Never Forget Safety When Operating any Kind of Trailer Door

Whatever kind of freight truck you’re dealing with, following proper safety protocols is vital to cultivating a safe and functional workplace culture. That means having safety procedures posted in a clear spot in the work space, holding regular meetings about OSHA standards as well as those of your own business, regular refreshers on operation of both types of trailer doors, and strict consequences for employees who act carelessly. It might sound harsh, but there’s a lot of danger involved in hydraulic lifts, dollies, and thousands of pounds of inventory on dozens of skids.

Don’t forget: when it comes to the trailer doors at your loading dock, safety is key.