Preventable or not? Lowered dock door ruins driver’s day

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Updated Jan 27, 2021
John Doe didn’t notice an overhead door had been lowered partially before he began to exit the dock area and damaged both the door and his exhaust stack. Was this a preventable accident?John Doe didn’t notice an overhead door had been lowered partially before he began to exit the dock area and damaged both the door and his exhaust stack. Was this a preventable accident?

On a sunny but chilly morning, trucker John Doe arrived at the Frugal Family Grocery Store in Denver with a trailer loaded with produce. After calling upon store personnel to raise the facility’s overhead door, Doe expertly backed his vehicle until it was positioned at the dock. At that point, while the trailer was completely under cover, about half of Doe’s tractor protruded beyond the building.

While manager Sid Snorkelli directed the unloading process, Doe strolled into the store and – after a slight detour to acquire a fresh bag of celery snack sticks – headed for the deli section for a Fresh Frugal Coffee and a double order of Fantastic Frugal Fajitas. He wasn’t present in the dock area when the overhead door was lowered partially, just above the level of his tractor’s roof, to help minimize loss of heat from the dock area.

When Doe returned to the dock, burping with pleasure from his tasty breakfast, he finalized the exchange of paperwork with Snorkelli, climbed back into his cab, cranked up his Cummins and began to exit the … BLAM! CEREETCH!! Fragments of overhead door rained loudly on the cab, and to Doe’s horror, his beautiful triple-chromed exhaust stack had been bent into a “C” shape! Oh no!

Doe contested the warning letter for a preventable accident, claiming that Snorkelli should have warned him about the lowered door. Asked to resolve the dispute, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee upheld the preventable ruling, noting that Doe should have checked clearances before attempting to depart the dock. A simple glance skyward would have revealed the danger.