In summer 2010, two children died after becoming trapped in electrically powered gates. The accident happened in each case because their presence at the closing edge was not detected and the closing force of the gate when they obstructed it was too great.
At that time, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued two Safety Notices on the risks such gates pose to pedestrians and the appropriate safety measures that must be put in place to minimise those risks. This is particularly important if the gates are in a public place where children and other members of the public may be present. The Safety Notices, which were largely intended for use by those involved in the design, construction, installation and/or commissioning of electrically powered gates, can be found here and here.
The HSE has now issued a General Safety Notice to advise landlords, commercial owners and managers of properties with electrically powered gates how to comply with their legal obligations in this respect.
The following steps should be taken:
- Check that all the required safeguards are in place, depending on the type of environment in which the gate operates. Where the risk assessment identifies that the gate is high risk because it is in contact with the general public, additional safeguards, such as fixed guards, pressure sensitive strips on the closing edge and photoelectric sensing devices must be fitted, in addition to opening/closing force limitation;
- Make sure the gate is maintained by a reputable company which regularly tests its safety devices and features as part of an agreed planned preventative maintenance schedule. The opening/closing force of the gate should be limited in line with the British/European standards (Annex A of BS EN 12453:2001) and those maintaining it should use the correct measuring equipment, to ensure that the gates meet the required safety standards. Keep a log of all maintenance;
- Ask the gate maintenance company to show you how to release the gate in an emergency. This should be easy and quick to do. Make sure you instruct members of staff and any other users on how to do this;
- Regularly review risk assessments to ensure that these identify any changes to the environment or operating conditions and that the appropriate steps to address these have been taken. This is particularly important when the responsibility for management of the gate passes from one person or organisation to another; and
- If you are purchasing a new gate, check that the installer can show you the features listed above and will CE mark the gate and provide you with a Declaration of Conformity. If they are unsure about how to do this, it may be a reason to doubt their competence.