Barn doors may be best left on barns. I currently receive about a call a month to ask if I can help with a hotel room sliding barn door injury. This is a trend that has continued since hotel designers decided that it would be a great concept to install sliding type barn doors to separate bathrooms and other areas from the hotel guest bedroom.
The first time I saw a door of this type installed in a newly renovated hotel room, I immediately thought that this was an accident waiting to happen. It was either going to create a pinch injury, a crush incident, or the door would just fall off the hanging rail and smash into someone. I was more concerned that unattended children playing with these doors would get seriously injured.
Sure enough, within a month of seeing this kind of door installation, the calls started coming into the office. These calls have been ongoing for the last 4 years.
The peculiar aspect of these installations is that there are too many small hardware component pieces that can become loose and ultimately fall off causing detachment of the door. Various manufacturers use different types and qualities of materials to make the doors slide, however, most door systems are subject to the same problems. They loosen, fall apart, fall off of their track or move out of adjustment leading to serious personal injuries of hotel guests as the sliding doors disconnect from their hanging hardware in one way or another.
Defectively operating hotel room barn doors have created injuries in many different ways. Hanger bars have become detached from the wall. Guide rollers and limiters have become disconnected. Screws have gone missing and were unchecked. Door hangers have lost their grip. Rollers have cracked and broken. Rubber stops have disappeared. The base plates and screws that keep the door from swinging away from the wall have broken or disconnected completely from the floor. Rust has affected the hardware due to moisture from the bathroom, and parts have seized. Glass doors have shattered due to stresses imparted as the door has been pushed into obstructions when they are out of alignment.
When depositions of hotel staff are taken and they are asked about how the barn door systems are maintained, the typical answer is “we don’t do much”. Sometimes they claim that they have boxes of replacement parts left from the original installation, and “when we notice something wrong, we go get one of those spare parts”. Many hotels claim that they make routine inspections of their guest rooms, but I haven’t encountered one hotel that pays the needed attention to these doors, even after an injury incident occurs.
Those housekeepers are the only check for room condition prior to a new occupancy. Housekeepers do not have the skill set, time in the room or training to evaluate loose hardware on sliding barn doors. Some managers have claimed that they inspect the rooms with other hotel personnel on a routine scheduled cycle, but their inspections are often too far apart. Quarterly or even monthly room checks are inadequate to counteract the daily changes that occur with the hardware on most barn style doors. I have never seen any information regarding specific barn door hardware inspections.
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