Garage tells harrowing story of shutter door horror and warns of dangers

Technician pulled his head back inside just moments before the shutter door fell “like a guillotine”

Fearnley Motors is urging workshops to check their shutter doors.

An independent garage owner is urging workshops across the country to check the condition of their shutter doors after one of his employees narrowly escaped injury. 

While locking up for the night, an employee at Fearnley Motors in Colchester turned the key switch to close the workshop’s electric roller shutter doors, looked outside to check everything was safe for the night and pulled his head back inside just moments before the 18-foot shutter came crashing to the ground.

The electric motor inside the rollers had failed.

Garage owner, Peter Fearnley told GW: “There was no chance he would have got out alive.

“He wouldn’t have heard a thing, it just dropped.

Fell like a guillotine

Technicians at Fearnley Motors urge workshops to check their doors.

“What we didn’t realise is that if the motor drive breaks – which apparently is not uncommon – the roller door under its own weight will fall like a guillotine.

“The motor drive is the only thing that stops the door from unrolling and it just gave up – very scary.”

The doors were thought to be around 15 years old and weren’t supplied with safety brakes.

Today, legislation states that all roller doors should have a device fitted to prevent it from falling.

Speaking to GW, Emma Harrison of Essex Industrial Doors, the company that repaired the failed shutters at Fearnley Motors, said: “We changed the entire roller mechanism, fitted a new roller and roller motor, complete with a safety brake.

“They didn’t have a safety brake on their old door, which would have prevented the door from free-falling.

“The devices are an inertia brake and work a bit like a seat belt.”

Serious and fatal accidents

Industrial, commercial and roller shutter doors have been known to cause a number of serious and fatal accidents, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

One man was taken to hospital with fractured ribs when a roller shutter door came down on his chest and pinned him to the back rest of the vehicle he was driving.

Other cases include the death of two children who became fatally entangled or trapped in the door.

“Each door is recommended to have at least one safety device,” Emma added.

“Doors should be fitted and maintained to a high a standard.

“The trouble is often, these shutters don’t get the maintenance that they need – like a car, these doors have moving parts that need to be serviced.”

What the law says

Dave Garratt, chief executive of the Garage Equipment Association (GEA) told GW: “All powered equipment falls under PUWER regulation so must by law be maintained correctly and all doors should be CE marked.”

It is compulsory to ensure that your roller shutters comply with the Workplace Regulation 1992 Maintenance of Equipment, Devices and Systems.

To comply fully, you need to ensure that the roller shutters are inspected at least once a year.

You must also be able to demonstrate that regular maintenance is carried out at suitable intervals and any potentially dangerous defects are quickly remedied.

Other pieces of legislation that must be met include the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 and BS EN 12635:2002 – Industrial, Commercial and Garage Doors and Gates.

Peter added: “Safety locks are fairly expensive but my goodness, imagine what could happen without.

“We just really want to warn workshops that use these doors about the dangers so that they get them checked.”

When was the last time you checked the condition of your roller shutter doors? Have you had a close call too? Share your comments and experiences below.


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