Following the deaths of two young children who were crushed by electric gates in the summer of 2010, the HSE has again urged installers, designers, maintenance firms and manufacturers of electric gates to seriously consider new safety advice. The latest guidance (issued in September 2010) follows a similar notice issued in February that year.

In many cases, property developers have already written to freehold owners alerting them of the need to risk assess such equipment.

The HSE’s latest safety alert points out that limiting the closing force of the gates alone will not provide sufficient protection to meet the relevant standards, and installers must fit additional safeguards to gates in public areas.

HSE’s Director of Field Operations, David Ashton, said “Electric or automatic gates are designed to stop if someone gets in the way, and installers and those maintaining these gates have a real duty to ensure this happens. They must take their responsibilities seriously to make sure that anti-crushing, shearing and trapping safety protection devices are correctly set and maintained.”

While the police and HSE investigations continue into both deaths, the HSE does want to make it clear to installers that they must take action to prevent pedestrians from becoming trapped in electric gates.

David Ashton added, “When manufacturing, designing or installing electric gates, it’s crucial to consider who will be in the area when it’s operating. If general public can access the gate then additional protections should be in place. These protections can be in the form of creating safe distances, installing fixed guards, limiting the forces or installing sensitive protective equipment – among others.”

Extract from HSE’s bulletin FOD 7 – 2010 “Risks to pedestrians from crushing zones on electrically powered gates – 2” suggests the following action:

All designers and installers of electrically powered gates should ensure that the forces generated by a gate when meeting a person or an obstacle are limited and that they do not exceed the values specified in Annex A of BS EN 12453:2001. These forces should be measured in accordance with BS EN 12445:2001. “Industrial commercial and garage doors and gates. Safety in use of power operated doors. Test methods” and the performance of the system validated before the gate is put into use. Forces should be periodically re-measured and checked as part of the planned preventative maintenance schedule for the gates.

In addition to force limitation, additional safeguards, such as pressure sensitive strips on the closing edge and photoelectric sensing devices, should be fitted where the risk assessment identifies the gate as high risk, in that it is operating automatically in a public place where children and other members of the public may be present.

Persons or organisations in control of powered gates should periodically review their risk assessments to ensure that they identify any changes to the environment or operating conditions and that they have taken appropriate steps to address them. This is particularly important when the responsibility for management of the gate passes from one person or organisation to another.

Other hazards associated with the opening and closing of the gate should also be addressed – these will include crushing, shearing, impact and drawing-in hazards. Examples of other hazard points are described in BS EN 12453: 2001 and include: the opening edge; gaps in the gate where they pass fixed structures; and at the drive mechanism. (Note: force limitation on its own is also unlikely to be sufficient for these hazards).

All safety devices and features should be checked on a regular basis and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure they continue to function as designed to ensure that safety is maintained. This should be specified in a planned preventative maintenance schedule agreed by persons responsible for the gate’s management and their appointed maintenance company.

The HSE’s advice also reminds those in control of the maintenance of electric gates to regularly review their risk assessments, taking account of or any changes to the operating conditions or environment.

Cardinus can provide suitably qualified engineers to assess electric gates and provide recommendations to enable relevant standards to be met.

For more information, please refer to the HSE web-site or contact the Cardinus Property team on 020 7469 0200 or email info@cardinus.com.

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