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January 24, 2007 12:03 AM

Broken: Self-serve ice bag freezer warning

Img_1951Rachele DiTullio submits a picture taken at a Wal-Mart in Austin, Texas:

At my local Wal-Mart, there is an interesting sign on one of the self-serve ice bag freezers.

The sign warns: "Caution!!! Ice bag will drop from machine ceiling without notice!"

I agree that this is a cause for concern, however there are other freezers just to the right of the one making the ice. They should set it up so that only employees can access the ice-making freezer and then move them into a less dangerous freezer for customer access.


alternatively, design it so that when the chute door above is opened to drop ice, the door handles on the freezer locks, so no one can open it during an 'ice drop.'

Posted by: mmcwatters at January 24, 2007 08:03 AM

It also strikes me that the ice isn't going to drop "without notice."

Thanks to the sign, people now have notice that the ice will drop.

Ah! Paradox! Paradox!

Posted by: Randee Cohen at January 24, 2007 01:36 PM

yes, but if the bag were to drop from the ceiling, and no one was around, would it make any sound?

Posted by: Memnon at January 24, 2007 10:49 PM

Since someone could open the door before it locks for an ice drop, just having the door lock would not be useful. A better solution would be to have some sort of alarm that would sound before the ice drops. The best solution I can come up with is to use the lock idea, but also use a switch on the door to prevent the ice from dropping while the door is open. I'm not sure how the mechanism works, so I am not sure how feasible that would be.

Posted by: ebob at January 24, 2007 11:46 PM

Having employees move ice bags to other freezers sort of defeats the point of 'self serve'

Also an alarm would be sort of annoying. Especially if you work at the store and have to stand next to it for most of the day.

Locking the freezer door while the ice is dropping, that's an idea but people would be confused to why it's currently locked. Disabling the mechanism while the door is open would make more sense, because magnetic door switches are cheaper than solenoids/motors/magnets to hold the door shut.

Posted by: Trent Chernecki at January 25, 2007 12:08 AM

ebob is right and i should have added that the lock is two way: if the freezer door is open, then the chute cannot be opened. no alarms, no signs, no crushing (no pun intended) blows to the head.

Posted by: mmcwatters at January 25, 2007 07:53 AM

@Trent Chernecki: I fail to see how having empoloyees move bags of ice into the selling freezer would defeat the purpose of self-serve. Grocery store shelves don't have cans of peaches dropping from the ceiling, but rather have them stocked by employees when the shelf runs low. Just as they would restock the ice in this example when it runs low. Considering the store knows that a dangerous condition exists, I'm not convinced that slapping up a warning sign is sufficient to relieve them of liability if a customer were to be hit by falling bag of ice. This set up just does not seem smart from many angles.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at January 25, 2007 08:29 AM

As usual, excellent point Carlos! And I have to say, the thought of cans of peaches dropping from the ceiling sort of made me laugh- it paints an odd (yet very effective) picture. =D

Posted by: ambrocked at January 26, 2007 03:50 PM

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