Safe operation of your commercial garage door is always a concern for the business owner, in regards to your employees and the public. Statistics reveal that thousands suffer injuries from garage door accidents annually, including fractures, lacerations, concussions, severed limbs and joint damage. Permanent disabilities and death result from garage door accidents. Fortunately, with a little vigilance you can ensure safe operation of your commercial garage door, and minimize your exposure to liability.

Industrial garage doors are usually bigger and heavier than residential ones, and subject to more traffic and more openings and closings per day. The potential for injuries from a commercial garage door is much greater. The presence of forklifts, trucks, and other commercial vehicles boosts safety concerns.

The Right Door

Sectional or overhead coiling garage doors are commonly chosen for commercial door installations. Sectional doors are hinged together, moving in tracks up and above the opening. The door may travel to a horizontal position above the floor as it rests in the guides. Overhead roll-up doors coil up above the door opening around a drum in a compact space. Rolling doors typically use heavy gauge steel formed into 2- to 3-inch interlocking slats.

A coiling door requires less intensive maintenance than a sectional door. The parts are concealed in a coil so are less exposed to damage or elements. Sectional doors require lubrication; constant exposure may cause rust and corrosion. Cables can become frayed; springs can break; and other parts may fail or even result in freefall. Sectional doors usually weigh less and so cost less, but maintenance and repair costs may be more through the life cycle of the door.

Stronger steel and the interlocking of the slats make overhead coiling doors more durable. But even though the parts are more protected, they can be damaged by vehicles, equipment or improper operation.

Preventing Freefall

Any garage door can fall. Motorizing open and closing door cycles improves safety concerns about freefalling doors, but sometimes, that may not be an option. The manual operator may use a chain, hand crank or push-up operation. Chain hoists provide a means to operate a non-powered roll-up door; yanking on a chain to close a rolling service door, made of heavier gauge steel, is potentially dangerous and can damage the door. A control chain operator may be the solution, in that it moves the door open and down with minimal effort, and has a braking system.


Forklifts are a major cause of garage door injuries, according to OSHA, as well as a major cause of damage to overhead garage doors. A damaged door becomes more likely to cause injuries, especially if it is not opening or coiling properly.

You might try installing a heavy bottom bar on a rolling door, which will deflect the force and help the door bounce back, resulting in reduced down time for repairs.

Forklift drivers often damage sectional garage doors when drivers forget to watch for overhead clearance while moving freight. Forklifts can also strike the head of a roll-up door, leading to costly repairs and even making the door inoperable. Installing a rolling door protector helps prevent damages and injuries. It’s much better to replace a damaged protector than a damaged door.

Whenever damage occurs to an overhead door, you should call a qualified garage door specialist to inspect it and make repairs, if necessary. It’s important not to take chances with your employees’ or customers’ safety by operating a faulty door. Schedule safety inspections and regular maintenance so that all service doors operate efficiently and safely.