Making "Doors to Nowhere" Safe and Useful

A few times a year Dakota Safety will receive an inquiry for what we commonly refer to as “Doors to Nowhere”.   Typically, it is a door on an upper or mezzanine level of a production or warehousing facility.  Below are a couple examples: 

Mezzanine Door
Rolling Mezzanine Door("Doors to Nowhere")


The main purpose of these doors is to provide an opening that a forklift can access with ingredients, supplies, or equipment that are being used or storage. 


Mezzanine Door unguarded(Upper-level door for supplies)

The obvious fall protection issue comes into play when the doors are open and there is clear access to the leading edge. Even when the material or equipment is placed in the door opening, there is still going to be space around the pallet or equipment allowing access to the leading edge.  Workers may carelessly move around the pallet while off-loading or accessing equipment, which puts them in a precarious position near the leading fall edge.

 Mezzanine Door

(A view from a “door to nowhere”)

In most of these situations there are no fall protection measures in place.  Usually there is just warning signage, but we have seen a few instances where there is not any type of warning of the dangerous fall situation on the other side of the door.  In some instances, an active fall protection system is in place. But even with active fall protection, there is still the potential for a fall.  Moreover, if active fall protection measures are used, then other requirements must be in place including having a rescue plan, training sessions on recovering a fallen person within minutes, and all the required documentation of the training for OSHA inspection.  In the end, though, active fall protection is all predicated on the fact that personnel use the equipment even for those brief few moments when the door is open.  Sometimes the doors are also opened to increase ventilation or other reasons.  What if an OSHA inspector shows up and sees an unprotected elevated opening? That would be minor compared to an actual fall with severe injury and likely death.


Active Fall Protection at Mezzanine Door

(Active fall protection measures)

A mezzanine safety gate system like Dakota Safety’s Pallet Safety Gate allows safe use of the opening while door is in the open position without any active fall protection equipment.  The gates are protecting the opening meeting OSHA’s requirements for fall protection guard rail while also allowing for material to be moved through the gate.  From production process perspective, would there be improvements in processes if an opening could be safely utilized on a more frequent basis?  Additionally, the time savings for personnel not having to put in place active fall protection measures and go through the training and documentation makes the return on an investment in a mezzanine pallet safety gate significant.

Mezzanine Pallet Safety Gate(Mezzanine Pallet Gate)


Using the measurements of the existing opening, the gate is fabricated to fit the existing door opening.  The unit comes complete with mounting instructions except for the mounting hardware to anchor the door.  Mounting hardware will be dependent on the type of wall structure the unit is being installed into and is not included.  Standard finish is powder coat safety yellow paint.

If you have a similar “door to nowhere” situation at your facility, contact a Dakota Safety team member to assist you in a permanent solution for this potentially dangerous safety situation. Even if personnel at your facility use the opening infrequently, why take the chance of a catastrophic fall?

 Mezzanine Pallet Safety Gate

Dakota Safety is a specialized safety rail company dedicated to passive fall protection systems for roofs, mezzanines, and other elevated surfaces.  Our team can assist in keeping your personnel safe and allowing access points in mezzanines and upper levels with a variety of safety gates including horizontal mezzanine gates, vertical mezzanine gates, ladder safety gates, loading dock gates and pallet safety gates.  Dakota Safety can also assist with non-penetrating fall protection guard rail, fixed modular guard rail.  Be sure to also check our building disinfection systems by CASPR.  You can reach our customer service team directly at 866-503-7245 or

This article first appeared on the Dakota Safety blog May 2022
Active fall protectionArchitectural guardrailsEquipmentFall protectionGeneral safetyIndustrialInjuriesOshaOsha violationsPassive fall protectionPassive safetySafety equipmentSafety gatesSafety gates and guardingWarehouse

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