Saturday, March 12, 2011

Markets in Everything: The Toepener

"The Toepener is a simple device that attaches to doors, enabling users to open the door with their feet. It is the ideal solution for exiting a public restroom. It provides a sanitary, hands-free alternative for users to open the door and avoid touching the handle."

The Toepener is being produced and marketed by a group of business students from the University of Minnesota


17 Comments:

At 3/12/2011 12:40 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"It is the ideal solution for exiting a public restroom"...

Are paper hand towels no longer an option in Minnesota?

 
At 3/12/2011 1:23 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

The initial marketing effort seems to have been via a Twin Cities Pub Crawl, but also seems logical for this product. Good idea students.

 
At 3/12/2011 1:25 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I hope the owner who installs this has good insurance for when someone slips and falls because the floor was wet and he only had single-point contact on the floor with a balky opening door. Feet should be planted firmly on the floor and hands should be opening doors by design.

Walking and working surfaces is an OSHA safety module for anyone who has employees covered by OSHA. The toeopener is an unsafe idea.

 
At 3/12/2011 2:07 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Walking and working surfaces is an OSHA safety module for anyone who has employees covered by OSHA"...

Obviously its time to dump OSHA and let the states impose their own safety rules...

 
At 3/12/2011 3:07 PM, Blogger cluemeister said...

I've used one of these at a restaurant, and it worked fine.

 
At 3/12/2011 3:15 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Are paper hand towels no longer an option in Minnesota?"

Maybe not for long, if nanny staters get their way, but I predict their eventual return as the number of lawsuits skyrocket from people falling while attempting this tricky maneuver.

 
At 3/12/2011 5:06 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

juandos,

Actually Michigan does have their own safety department (MIOSHA). The department falls under OSHA, and Michigan can collect their own license fees and fines. MIOSHA can supersede the codes of federal regulation (CFR). Those codes are a huge part of what I do every day.

cluemeister, put a couple of drops of soap and water where the guy's left foot is when he is pushing on the door with his right foot, add about six beers, and watch him fall on his ass. Having drops of water and soap on the floor is not unusual for a bathroom. You could entertain yourself in a bar that way. If no one falls from the slippery water after a few guys, just pull the door open from the other side when he is pushing to come out. Like I said, doors are meant to be opened with your hands or automatically. Feet belong on the floor. Toeopeners are a negligence lawsuit or workman's compensation case just waiting to happen.

 
At 3/12/2011 5:31 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Toeopeners are a negligence lawsuit or workman's compensation case just waiting to happen"...

Yeah Walt G that was exactly what I was thinking when I first saw the picture then went to their web site...

"Actually Michigan does have their own safety department (MIOSHA). The department falls under OSHA..."...

Exactly why we don't need a 'federal' OSHA...

 
At 3/12/2011 5:39 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"...if nanny staters get their way..."...

Bingo Ron H!

BTW your comment reminded me of a Washington Times editorial I read today: Close the EPA


It’s time to stop funding carbon mysticism with taxpayer dollars

As Congress looks for ways to trim the budget, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) represents an opportunity for up to $9 billion in savings. This outfit has become little more than an advocacy group for trendy leftist causes operating on the public's dime. Many liberal policies being promoted are so unpopular that congressional Democrats can't muster the votes to get them through the proper legislative process. So they go to the EPA instead...

 
At 3/12/2011 7:05 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"It’s time to stop funding carbon mysticism with taxpayer dollars"

100% agreement here.

 
At 3/13/2011 1:30 PM, Blogger cluemeister said...

Walt said:

"add about six beers, and watch him fall on his ass."

And that would be the proprietor's fault?

 
At 3/13/2011 3:37 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

clemeister,

Knowing that the potential hazard exists is enough to prove responsibility. Employers and business owners have a legal duty to provide safe workplaces and buildings even if the workers or visitors are the cause of the hazard. Fault would not have to be established for the employer or owner to lose a lawsuit that could cost them a lot of money.

Doors are normally opened by hand. You can be innovative if you want to pay the price. Ask anyone who performs safety inspections or risk assessments if they would suggest the toeopener for a business.

juandos,

Michigan senate bill 0014 was introduced by state senator Mark Jansen on Jan. 11, 2011 to repeal the MIOSHA act.

 
At 3/13/2011 4:09 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

"Put a couple of drops of soap and water where the guy's left foot is when he is pushing on the door with his right foot (or walking down some stairs), add about six beers, and watch him fall on his ass. Having drops of water and soap on the floor (stairs) is not unusual for a bathroom.

Toeopeners (stairs) are a negligence lawsuit or workman's compensation case just waiting to happen."

Couldn't you say the exact same thing about stairs?

 
At 3/13/2011 5:28 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

No, stairs are designed for feet, and feet are on the stairs. So, it would not be a wilful OSHA violation if someone slipped on the stairs unless the hazard had been identified and communicated prior to slipping as long as past problems of this nature had been addressed promptly and corrected properly.

Doors are commonly designed to be opened by hand, and anyone changing that convention would have to ensure it could be done safely even under non-standard operating conditions (drunk and wet). It's fine to reinvent the wheel, but it better not come off the car when driving. People die from slips and falls even from non-elevated positions. I doubt any safety inspector or risk assessor would approve of toeopeners. I would not approve them. Now, if we could just get people to stop flushing the toilets with their feet (the greasy footprints on the wall are a dead giveaway :).

 
At 3/13/2011 11:14 PM, Blogger AIG said...

I have to agree with Walt G on this one. It seems like it would cause more problems than solve. As a student idea its great. At my local university our MBA students bring ideas like this to competitions all the time. And they're great at first, but when put under some more scrutiny they rarely stand up.

Problem number one would be the slipping and falling. Problem two, which would aggravate problem one, is if the door takes too much energy to actually pull. Problem three, is the moment arm. The force is being applied in a most inappropriate spot to get a door weighting as much as you, to open. Problem four, is getting your foot stuck in the foot-handle. This is likely going to happen a lot. Problem five, is scratching your shoes or getting them dirty

An easier and better solution would be to have a door that hinges both ways, and no handles. You just push with whatever part of your body you want, including your foot (and pushing instead of pulling with a foot, is much easer). Or, even more simple, a door that only requires to be pulled when entering the bathroom, but can be pushed when exiting. That way, the only people who touch the handle are people who have not been to the bathroom, yet.

I'm sure, such a door exists :)

 
At 3/14/2011 9:33 AM, Blogger Junkyard_hawg1985 said...

Not to be picky Walt, but when I look at the picture, I also see a door handle. The "Toepener" appears to be in addition to the door handle. For someone who is drunk, I seriously doubt they are that concerned about germs.

In the stairs analogy, this is the equivalent to a case where there are stairs next to a ramp. If you fall down the stairs because you were drunk, you had the option of taking the ramp.

 
At 3/14/2011 12:47 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

junkyard,

It is a safety hazard that must be dealt with that did not exist before the toeopener was installed. You can design safety in or design safety hazards out--your choice and your money.

If you can convince a safety inspector or jury that you are reducing a more severe safety hazard by introducing a less severe safety hazard it might fly, but the burden of proof (data) would most likely be your obligation in the lawsuit or workman's compensation case.

My suggestion is to shit can the toeopener on the shithouse door and grab a paper towel on your way out: Works for me.

 

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