Your employees are not likely thinking about getting injured when they show up to work every day — even if they work in a high-risk environment. However, as an employer, supervisor or manager, it’s something that should be on your mind on a regular basis.
With OSHA recently hiking penalties for workplace safety violations, companies are on alert about maintaining safety at the workplace. Back in 1970, when OSHA was formed, about 140,000 employees were killed on the job every year. While those deaths have dropped to 4,836 in 2015 — a significant improvement — too many employees are still working in risky conditions, OSHA officials say.
Of the workplace injuries and fatalities reported over the years, some have involved malfunctioning commercial garage doors. In one case, a 32-year-old employee in Nebraska died from his injuries after a 1,200-pound commercial garage door fell on him. In New York, a 62-year-old mechanic died in a similar accident.
Safe installation and operation of commercial garage doors
Many workplace accidents can be avoided with properly functioning commercial garages that are regularly serviced, maintained and operated. Here are key features and tips to keep your employees safe.
Invest in doors designed for safety. Ensure that you have commercial garage doors that are designed to prevent hazards. If necessary, upgrade to new doors to make sure you’re in compliance with overhead door regulations or the latest industry standards for safe operation. The operating controls should be located in an area that prevents employees from risks in the event of malfunctioning doors. Ask the garage door specialists about various safety features, such as sensor switches on the door drive motor that automatically reverses door direction when resistance is detected. Some garage doors also require constant contact of a button to open or close a door.
Schedule regular inspections. As with other equipment and machinery, commercial garage doors have many parts that, if defective, can result in accidents. These can include sensors, springs, support rails, and opener systems. Have qualified technicians regularly check the condition of these components and assess the proper operation of the door.
Train employees. Along with keeping regular maintenance and repairs of the garage door, it’s essential to ensure that employees are properly trained in its operation. The training should include an overview of potential hazards. The company that installed your garage door should provide this training, which can include tips as simple as keeping a safe distance from the garage while operating the door. The worker who was killed when the door was free falling was standing underneath it. Your workplace safety program should be comprehensive, taking into account all areas of your operations. In addition, written guidelines should be easily accessible to all workers. Make sure that you have a system for enforcing safety regulations.
Immediately handle repairs. If any portion of the garage door is hit by machinery or suffers any other damage, as was the case with the Nebraska accident, immediately rope it off or place barriers around it to prevent continued use. Schedule repairs even if it appears that the damage is minimal.