Injuries from falling lockers

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During the last several years several disturbing accidents have occurred in our YMCAs…disturbing because the injuries arose not from programming but from lockers that tipped over and fell onto people. While the circumstances surrounding the incidents have varied greatly and the results themselves have ranged from nominal bumps and bruises to life-threatening conditions, the same precautions and protocols would have helped prevent them all. Following are some physical and supervisory controls whose implementation can reduce the chance of such tragic and needless suffering.

  • Behavior should be carefully monitored in locker rooms.
    • Direct supervision should be provided whenever youth use locker rooms to prevent inappropriate and potentially dangerous behavior such as climbing on lockers, swinging on doors, etc.
    • If locker room monitors are not present, staff should frequently but irregularly walk through the locker rooms throughout the day to provide a presence.
  • All lockers should be anchored to structural building components to prevent accidental or intentional tipping and falling. This should be done before any use of the area is permitted. Even temporary lockers should be properly secured before their use.
    • If quarter-height or half-height lockers are stacked, the resulting towers should be bolted together into a rigid unit. No bolt extensions should exist that can cut, snag, or otherwise injure users of the lockers.
  • If lockers or stacked units of lockers are joined together to make a row, each locker or stack should be bolted to the unit on either side of it so that the entire row becomes a rigid unit, again without creating hazards that might injure the users.
  • Lockers or units of lockers should be securely anchored to structural wall members.
    • Wood-frame walls should use lag screws (with appropriately sized washers) at every stud at the top and bottom of the lockers. It is important to anchor each end to a structural member (as opposed to simple sheet-rock or plaster. Sometimes anchor boards (nominal 2"x4" minimum) must be attached to each stud and the lockers attached to it (on 16" centers) to ensure proper anchoring at the ends.
    • Concrete walls should use appropriate anchor bolts (not simple screws or nails) on similar spacing, either directly to the wall (top and bottom) or to anchor strips.
  • If lockers are freestanding, that is, not anchored to a wall, they should be connected together into rows as above, then connected back-to-back so that they are as a single unit. That unit should be anchored to the floor (or to an elevating platform that is itself anchored to the floor) so that the lockers cannot even be tipped over intentionally.

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.

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