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July 14, 2010

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Child gate deaths a warning that safety cannot be compromised

The tragic deaths of two children in recent, separate incidents involving electronic gates has prompted professionals in the electrical, ventilation, plumbing and heating industries to restate their commitment to ‘safety first, foremost, and forever’.

The 6500-strong NAPIT (National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers) has called for a competency check from allied trades following the death of a six-year-old girl in a gated development in Manchester, and of a five-year-old girl in Bridgend. In the first incident, at the end of June, the victim was caught between a rolling electronic gate and a brick post. Her mother tried to stop the gate with her fob key and then switched off the electricity but was unable to save the little girl. Five days later, in Bridgend, the victim was crushed by an electronic sliding gate as she played outside a privately-owned block of flats.

The Police and the HSE are investigating both incidents but NAPIT said safeguards for these types of gates are already law throughout Europe. Its chief executive, John Andrews, said: “Such gates should feature safety edges, torque limitation, or light curtains – not only photocells – and the electronics need to be a certified CAT 3 system.”
He added that during installation the safety features should be bested before every movement to ensure that maximum impact forces are limited.

John Birkett, of the Automatic Entrance Systems Installers Federation, echoed Mr Andrews’ comments, saying: “Each of these types of gate will have safety features that should make them stop and back off when they meet resistance. It is vital these gates are properly serviced.”

In February this year, the HSE issued a safety alert to organisations or individuals involved in the design, construction, installation and/or commissioning of electrically-powered gates, reminding them of the potential safety risks to pedestrians.

Following the two latest incidents, the Executive advised anyone who has any concerns about electric gates on their development to “speak to their management company or their installer, who have a duty to ensure the gates will stop safely should they be obstructed (also known as force limitation protection). They must ensure that the force limitation protection and other anti-crushing, shearing and trapping safety protection devices are correctly set and maintained.”

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13 years ago

I agree that all automatic gate/door entry systems should comply with the relevant legislation, whether the gates that caused these tragic incidents were compliant is a matter for the HSE, having seen both gates I doubt very much that they do.

As regards Mr Birkett’s comments, as an installer himself (Assured Gates/The Gate Doctor) can he please say whether ALL of his installations are EN/Machinery directive compliant? As the self appointed voice of authority for Gate Installers it would be quite horrific & hypocritical if they did not.