Tens of thousands of people will suffer a garage door injury this year. A 2007 NEISS Hospital Study found that more than 13,000 people suffer from injuries as the result of garage door accidents every year. Current estimates for 2017, figure it at over 20,000. Some the top reported injuries include concussions, fractures, bruises, lacerations, severed limbs and pinched joints. Many have led to permanent disabilities or even death. But there are many steps you can take to ensure a safe operation of all commercial garage doors in a facility.
June is garage door safety month and when it comes to garage door safety, most people’s first thoughts are about residential garage doors. When it comes to an industrial or commercial building, the majority of building openings are most often using rolling garage doors. Industrial garage doors are bigger, heavier and receive much more traffic and use then a home unit. The potential for injuries in a workspace, manufacturing facility, distribution centers or any industrial setting is much greater. Trucks, forklifts and other commercial vehicles also increase the safety concerns around commercial garage doors.
Choosing the correct commercial garage doors as well as proper installation and maintenance of garage doors are the very first steps to improving garage door safety. When it comes to the types of commercial garage doors available, most choose between sectional doors or overhead coiling doors. Sectional doors are typically constructed with 24” sections that are hinged together and move in tracks up and above the opening. If significant room is not available above the opening, then the sectional door must travel up and curve horizontally above the floor space in the guides. Overhead roll up doors on the other hand, coil up above the door opening around a drum in a compact area. Rolling doors also utilize heavier gauge steel that is formed into 2” to 3” interlocking slats. Steel rolling doors take up less headroom and do not block or obstruct any ceiling equipment.
Maintaining a coiling door is less intensive than a sectional garage door. Because most parts are stored in a coil above the opening, far fewer parts are exposed to potential damage or elemental wear. Sectional doors usually have 30 to 40 parts that need to be regularly lubricated. With constant exposure, rust and corrosion are more prevalent in sectional garage door parts. Equipment and human error can lead to damage of the parts in either door type. Without proper maintenance and care, cables can fray, springs can break or a variety of other part issues can lead to door failure or a possible free fall. With less durable metal, sectional doors can weigh less and cost less up front, but maintenance and repair costs are typically more throughout the total life of the door.
The stronger gauge steel and smaller interlocking slat sections that make up the door curtain of an overhead coiling door naturally help make it much more durable. By utilizing enclosed parts, all moving pieces are well maintained and protected from outside damage. Physical damage by trucks, forklifts or any number of human or mechanical means is always possible in any type of door. However, overhead rolling doors have the option to be serviced on the spot, eliminating the wait for parts to be ordered or delivered.
Advancements in doors themselves have provided safer garage door solutions. High performance rolling doors offer high performance solutions. Many accidents happen due to impatience waiting for a door to open or close. A higher performance door brings faster speeds to support increased traffic flow – minimizing the frustration of waiting for a door to slowly open or close.
Keeping all the moving parts in good working condition can prevent safety issues due to part failure. Overhead rolling doors keep most parts stored in a coil above the door, while a high performance coiling door utilizing a springless design. With the springless design, not only are there less parts to wear out, but built in inertia safety brakes keep the high performance service door from dropping while providing the additional advantage of easily fitting into smaller spaces.
Instead of traditional single photo eye beams, high performance doors use 6 foot light curtains to create a larger and safer zone of protection against anything obstructing the opening. Smart controllers used to open and close the rolling doors, have intelligent settings to make open and close setting easy and safe, while showing and status or error messages happening with the door.
Free fall of any type of commercial garage doors are huge garage door safety concerns. This allows for the greatest chance of a major injury. While motorizing the opening and closing door cycle is a great option, sometimes it may not be warranted or available. When a motorized operator is not chosen, overhead rolling service doors typically open and close using chain, hand crank or push up operation. Push up and crank options are typically used in conjunction with lighter products such as counter shutters or security grilles. Chain hoists are a non powered roll up door staple. Since rolling service doors are made with heavier gauge steel and built more durable, they also typically weigh more. Yanking on a chain to let the door fall close not only has the potential to harm anyone near the door, but causes unnecessary damage to the door, chain and other moving parts. One garage door safety product that eliminates this is the ControlGard chain operator by Cornell. Using an easy flowing manual chain system, it moves the door open and down with minimal effort, however it also features an integral braking system, which stops the door when the user is not actively pulling the chain. This prevents an overhead door from slamming down, chains from spinning out of control or flying chains jolting to strike anyone or anything nearby. In fact, even if someone hangs on the bottom bar, the door will still not travel down. Additionally, it will lead to longer door life and ease of use.
The biggest amount of major injuries with commercial garage doors involve forklifts. According to OSHA, there are over 100,000 forklift accidents every year and over a third of those result in serious injuries. Forklifts can weigh up to 9,000 pounds, often carry heavy loads and steer differently that other vehicles. When a load is in front, many times the view is obstructed. The number one damage to overhead garage doors are those caused by forklifts. Once a door becomes damaged, it increases the potential to cause injuries, particularly if the overhead door is not coiling or opening properly.
Installing a heavy duty bottom bar on your rolling door is a great step. With 350% more strength and 4” taller than a traditional garage door bottom bar, it will deflect the forces and bounce back from ongoing abuse. With rugged, durable construction and heavy duty guide tabs, its resilient memory will help it retain its shape even under multiple punishments. In doors damaged with a traditional bottom bar, the time a door is down or out of commission can be costly. Attempting to use a damaged door can be extremely dangerous. Installing a heavy duty bottom bar on your overhead doors can prevent this, reduce repair costs and pay for itself after the first impact.
Forklift drivers often forget to look above for clearance when moving freight. Sectional garage door are at a great risk for damage from tall freight collisions if they are occupying the ceiling headroom when opened. Surprisingly, coiling doors are not immune either. Forklift can often strike the head of a roll up door leading to costly repairs and the potential to make a door inoperable. Installing a rolling door protector at the top of the rolling door, can help prevent multiple costs and injuries. It eliminates door headroom damage by creating a safety barrier that flexes and absorbs the brunt of an impact. By transferring the impact force across its length, it can return to its original position automatically. In severe collisions, it can be quickly replaced at a much lower cost than the cost to repair the door without one while keeping the overhead service door operational.
Even with the best of intentions, damages will still occur, particularly forklift damage. Being able to repair them quickly can be a huge money saver. Steel rolling doors with the RapidResponse option from Cornell can do just that. When damage is done to a roll up garage door, the bottom bar can be removed along with any damaged door slats. Because the curtain contains extra slats, the door curtain is simply rolled down for the additional rolling door slats to be used, reattach the bottom bar and guides and the door is up and running again. This avoids the wait for new parts, saves you the time the door would be unoperatable and saves on your annual repair budget. A rolling service door with RapidResponse can pay for itself within 1 year and significantly lower it over subsequent years. For facilities with high traffic areas that also have multiple vehicles, a roll up service door with the RapidResponse option is a smart solution.
Anytime damage is done to an overhead garage door, an inspection should be conducted to ensure all parts are working correctly. Do not take chances with a faulty door. Safety inspections and regular maintenance should occur to keep all service doors operating in top efficiency. All major commercial garage door dealers have scheduled inspection schedules, finding an issue before anyone gets hurt or anything gets damaged is always safer than after the fact.
To find out more about any garage door safety products or if you have a specific need, contact us today.
Cookson continues to lead in innovations in roll up door, security gate and closure products. To inquire how Cookson’s experts and customer service can help you with your next roll up door project, call 1-800-294-4358