Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Warning Issued Over Electric Gate Installations In The UK
Posted by David Cant on July 15, 2014
3 Comments

electric-gatesAre electric gates the ultimate in convenience or safety? Or are they causing more problems than they’re worth? Proponents of electric gates suggest that they represent a stylish and convenient solution as far as safety is concerned, and that if fitted correctly they represent no danger.

The trouble is that, as the latest news story to come through from the HSE reminds us, too many electric gates don’t seem to be fitted correctly. And more often than not it’s children who become the victims.

Electric Gate Injures Eight Year Old Leicester Boy

Recently a Leicester company has been prosecuted for failing to install the right type of protection on an electric gate which very nearly resulted in serious injuries being caused to an eight year old child. What particularly concerns us is that this electric gate had been fitted at the local primary school, precisely where you’d think any company would remember to fit adequate protection to safeguard young children.

In this particular case the boy’s head became trapped between the post and the edge of the gate as it began to close automatically. Fortunately he was with his father who very quickly struggled to stop the gate from closing any further, and then pulled it back enough to free his son’s head. Anyone who has ever tried to stop an electric gate from closing will know how hard it can be.

Fortunately the boy was freed successfully, and survived, although he suffered significant bruising to the right side of his head and ear. The company which fitted the gate, Access Control Solutions (UK) Ltd accepted the guilty verdict, offering in their defence the excuse that they were aware guarding was required but didn’t install it as they didn’t have any guarding of the right size. They were fined £3,300 with £773 costs.

The Frustration Of Preventable Accidents

The thing that irritates us, and indeed anyone else within the field of health and safety, is that this accident was entirely preventable. There are many situations where accidents happen that couldn’t reasonably have been predicted, and when an investigation is carried out it is plain that no one was really to blame.

But where accidents happen that could have, and indeed should have been prevented it is highly worrying, and even more so when the victim is, as in this case, a child.

It’s even more worrying given the fact that this is hardly the first time this sort of thing has happened. On 6th January 2010 a three year old boy was trapped between the post and the electric gate in Wiltshire, in almost exactly the same circumstances, and again, fortunately, was lucky enough to be freed.

On 28th June 2010 a six year old girl was crushed and killed by an electric gate in Manchester, and a few days later a five year old was also crushed and killed by an electric gate in Manchester. More recently, in June of this year a  five year old girl was crushed to death by an electric gate in Wales. Sad though these cases are, they are by no means exhaustive of the number of incidents of this type.

The Responsibilities Of An Electric Gate Installer

The HSE’s Director of Field Operations, David Ashton, has said that “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.”

If you have any concerns regarding the installation of an electric gate system at your place of work or business, or are looking at having an electric gate system installed at a private dwelling place, then it is essential to make sure that all appropriate guarding and safety features haven’t just been installed, but tested thoroughly to ensure that, even in unlikely circumstances, people are safe.

Children do climb on gates, stick their heads in unexpected places and squeeze into awkward gaps that are easily overlooked. It is all of our responsibility to make sure that even in these situations everything possible has been done to ensure their safety and wellbeing. Electric gates may offer convenience and security, but the price of this should never be the welfare of a young child.

To discuss electric gate safety installations, or any safety issue related to gates, fencing or security, call one of our health and safety experts FREE on 0800 1488 677 today.

About 

David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Competent Person Service, Health and Safety Consultancy, Health and Safety Services

3 Comments

  1. January 7, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I’ve read a story like this before but the child involved wasn’t so lucky and passed away. Contractors should always install the right type of protection on automated and electric gates.

    • January 18, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      I couldn’t agree more.. thanks for your comments

  2. October 21, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Unfortunately this is not the first and it hasn’t been the last! At the DHF we are committed to making unsafe gates a thing of the past and that’s why we have the DHF Powered Gate Safety Diploma course. It educates installation engineers on what they need to know to be compliant as well as to make gates safe as reasonably practicable when installing gates and barriers. We offer to non-members of DHF too. We have written a technical specification to help the industry understand the standards and legislation – DHF TS 011:2016 which can be downloaded FREE from our website http://www.dhfonline.org.uk. It really is becoming the ‘bible’ of the industry and EVERY installer should at least have a copy.

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