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July 15, 2014

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Company fined for safety failings after young boy is trapped in electric gate

A Leicester company has been prosecuted for failing to install adequate guarding on an electric gate that trapped a young child at a primary school in Stourbridge. The eight-year-old boy’s head was trapped between the edge of the closing gate and the gate post, but he was freed by his father who said that the incident “shook the whole family”. 
Dudley Magistrates’ Court heard on 10 July that on 25 September 2012, the boy was injured when his head became trapped causing him to suffer significant bruising to the right side of his head and ear.
His father desperately tried to hold the gate to stop it closing further and managed to pull it open enough to release his son’s head.
An HSE investigation found that the entrance gate at Pedmore Primary School had been automated by Access Control Solutions (UK) Ltd but the company had failed to fit suitable guarding.
The company had identified the need for the guarding but not fitted it because the gate, which had been manufactured by a different company, was not the exact style expected and the guarding would not fit.
Access Control Solutions (UK) Ltd, of Boston Road, Leicester, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 18 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and was fined £3,300 with £773 costs.
After the hearing HSE inspector Sarah Palfreyman, said: “This was an extremely traumatic event for the boy and his father. Fortunately, the youngster was back at school a couple of days later and he has not suffered any long term effects. However, it could have been a different story had he been trapped by a different part of his head, or had it happened to a younger child.
“The incident was entirely preventable. Access Control Solutions identified the need for the guard in their own job specification but when the gate arrived, it was not the type expected the guard did not fit. At this point they should have either come up with an alternative or postponed the job until the problem was rectified, especially as they were fully aware that the entrance would be used by a particularly vulnerable group — young children.
“People getting trapped is a well-known risk in the industry and HSE has produced safety notes on the subject due to a number of fatalities involving children in recent years. I would encourage all suppliers and installers of electric gates to read it.”
The boy’s father said: “I had gone to collect him from the after school activity club and he ran towards the gate, which was still open. I told him to stop and wait for me and as he did I saw the gate was closing and was touching his shoulders. Realising the danger I leapt to the gate but by then it was on his head and he was screaming.
“I was pulling it with all my strength. It nearly beat me but managed to pull it enough to get his head out.
“It shook the whole family. My son talks about it now and again. He thinks it was his fault, that he did something wrong. That upsets me as much as the incident itself.”

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