Many industrial walk-in freezers do not have release latches on the inside. This means that workers who accidentally let the door close after going in can be trapped and killed on the job.
This has happened numerous times and there are a few different causes of death. For example, one chef got trapped inside and the carbon dioxide from the dry ice caused him to pass away before he was found. That happened in Tennessee, and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration did note that the freezer didn’t have an interior release, though there was no explanation of why.
Another case happened in Georgia, when a woman working in a hotel got trapped in a freezer for 13 hours before anyone found her body. She was 61 years old. Reports said that the cold was the cause of death, as her eyes and her head had frozen completely solid.
Right now, there aren’t all that many regulations in place to keep these things from happening. One reason is that upgrading freezers could be massively expensive, some have speculated. Others note that the government will pass safety regulations for the employers, but not for the design of the freezers.
These deaths can be prevented by release mechanisms that don’t malfunction, by having motion sensors in the freezers, or by using cellphones.
Still, they continue to occur, and they’re a very traumatic way for a family to lose a loved one. When negligence or defective devices are involved, those family members must know if they have a right to seek financial compensation for their loss.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Trapped: Deaths inside freezers can be prevented, but how?,” Jeff Martin, Associated Press, Nov. 24, 2016