Tragedy Wholly Avoidable

James CampbellGate Safety, Risk Assessment

Tragedy Wholly Avoidable

“Wholly avoidable” This was the description used by HSE Inspector Julian Franklin. He was tragically referring to the death of a 6-year-old boy, that would still be alive today had the gate undergone a “thorough commissioning!”

A company had been convicted under Health & Safety legislation. It would seem that gaps in the commissioning process had led to the gates being handed over to the building occupier in a dangerous state. This type of incident tragically underlines the blogs, articles, and videos I have released over the past 3 years of just how dangerous our industry can be to the young and unsuspecting.

Gate Safety Video

Quite rightly, the HSE will not hesitate to take the appropriate enforcement action against those that disregard the law, regardless of the circumstances, the death of a young child cannot be the price of profit, incompetence or just plain carelessness.

The case I refer to was heard in a Leeds Court in October 2015. The gate of an underground car park had manufactured and fitted with no endstop to the track, and the gate was pushed beyond the retaining mechanism! The gate fell over, fatally crushing the child.

If this story wasn’t bad enough, the bit that took my breath away was the fact that in the 6 years the gate had been installed, no-one else involved in the commissioning or maintenance of the gate at that time had spotted the defect!

As I have commented before these types of blogs are always a hard read, all about legislation and guidance, harder still for the casual observer that may only have one gate. Nevertheless, it is undeniably important to understand the detail if you have powered gates, it really does save lives in understanding the responsibilities!

Powered Gates; Responsibilities

HSE Quote “If competent contractors advise that the equipment is unsafe prompt action should be taken to ensure the safety of everyone”.
The HSE provides some good insight when it comes to powered gates (Roller Shutters, Automated Gates). I’ve taken some pertinent text from the HSE website further down the page, plus a link for those needing more information.

Roller Shutters and Automated Gate safety looks at the way the individual component parts create an installed product, and how these parts work together in their designated function – Risk Assessment. In addition, how over time what action is taken to maintain the integrity of those components and the safety they provide when in use, under various circumstances

It is essential that at all times shutters and gate must respond in a safe way when being used. The design must account for “foreseeable interactions” going beyond normal use, for example, children playing with them, also normal wear and tear, as well as adverse environmental influences, especially wind and rain, snow and debris that can impact on function.

Those assessing, inspecting, checking, maintaining and repairing powered gates as part of a work activity have duties for safety under Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work, etc Act 1974. Essentially they should not put others (including the public) at risk. For example, following any maintenance or repair work the gate must be left safe.

Anyone working on powered gates should be competent (e.g. have appropriate mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, or pneumatic knowledge, together with the ability where necessary to verify and test both parts and the final product). Specialist equipment may be needed, e.g. to test force limitation values.

Records of servicing, repair, and testing may help to demonstrate what has been done and how the gate is being left safe. They could also be useful as a benchmark for subsequent safety checks. Ideally, access to exact settings (eg force limitation) should be kept secure from interference, and the user/occupier being made aware of the significance of these settings for safety. Users/owners should be made aware of the need for periodic checks to ensure safety (although there is no requirement for checks or maintenance of domestic private gates under health and safety law, they are recommended for safety).

Significant modifications to an existing powered gate may result in the gate having to be re-CE marked as the powered gate is in effect a ‘new’ machine. The same may also apply where CE marked gate kits are modified on installation, or installed, in ways not intended by the kit manufacturer. In these cases, the person making the changes will be deemed to be the manufacturer (‘Responsible Person’). However, simple servicing and straightforward parts replacement will not require re-CE marking.

Landlords, or those responsible for powered gates as part of work activity (e.g. Managing Agents), have duties under Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 for the safety of people (including the public) they do not employ.

They are expected to maintain similar standards of safety for construction, inspection and maintenance as employers have under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.