Rapidly Descending Refrigerator Door at Grocery Store Injures Man


This case involves an injury to a man due to a rapidly closing overhead door. The plaintiff was taking a tour of the defendant’s grocery store. The plaintiff came to the giant 14′ x 10′ insulated freezer doors where forklifts enter and exit when the door quickly descended upon the plaintiff’s head, driving him to the ground. The plaintiff sustained a traumatic brain injury.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. What are the safety precautions for refrigerator doors like this one?

Expert Witness Response E-004528

I believe you are describing a rapid action overhead roll-up door. These may be metal doors or fabric doors with a steel frame. There are standards that require that they be equipped with either a light beam obstruction sensor that prevents the door from closing if the beam is broken by an object in the path of the door, or a pressure sensitive safety astragal along the bottom edge which stops the door quickly if it comes in contact with an object. I have cited this hazard numerous times during safety audits and inspections and believe it has been cited by OSHA as a violation of the machine-guarding standard. I have over forty years of experience in safety engineering, human factors, and environmental management experience. I have completed safety surveys of multiple governmental facilities, as well as on-site safety supervision in corporations and other construction work.

Expert Witness Response E-001129

There are several types of industrial doors that are used in production. They range in design from side to side movement, pocket door type movement, roll-up style, and garage door type with multiple segments. For reasons of temperature maintenance, the speed of the doors has some importance. This, however, cannot override the safety of the personnel. The use of sensors and interlocks are important to reduce the risk to people in the area. It is also necessary to understand the location of the incident to determine if this was a no-walk zone. I have experience as a senior engineer with extensive experience in educating all levels of personnel on many different subjects, including machine operation, maintenance, and safety. I am experienced with passageways and the production use of specific doors, such as the style that would work best for a given operation.

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