• John Larrimer

Are Walk-In Freezers a Workplace Hazard?

An article published by CBS News claims walk-in freezers are responsible for several workplace deaths. The doors in these subzero temperature freezers can jam, making them a serious workplace hazard. Workers can become trapped in freezing cold tombs. Accidents involving walk-in freezers are preventable.

Earlier this year, an Atlanta hotel kitchen worker died after being trapped in a walk-in freezer for 13 hours. Coworkers found her the next day frozen solid and laying on the freezer’s metal floor. A lawsuit filed against her employer suggests the hotel knew the door was defective. Months earlier, another employee had become trapped inside, but was let out by a coworker.

Another case involving a walk-in freezer happened in Tennessee in 2012. A 47-year-old chef and café co-owner died after being trapped in a freezer without a release mechanism on the door.

Only a handful of deaths involving walk-in freezers have occurred over the last few decades. However, these deaths are entirely preventable. Solutions to prevent future accidents are inexpensive and easy to implement.

How Can Businesses Prevent Walk-In Freezer Deaths?

According to industrial design experts, motion sensors could keep doors from closing when movement is detected inside freezers. Phones could be placed inside freezers (much like elevators) for emergency situations. Buttons placed inside freezers could activate alarms that alert nearby fire departments.

Businesses have legal and ethical obligations to ensure their workplaces are safe. It is unreasonable and illegal to wait until after workplace accidents happen to fix safety problems. No family should have to lose loved ones from preventable causes.


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