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September 2, 2010

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Installers advised to fit electric-gates safeguards

The HSE has issued a safety alert following the recent deaths of two children involving automatic sliding gates.

The alert, which applies to all powered-access gates, underlines that limiting the closing forces of gates alone will not provide sufficient protection to meet the relevant standards, and installers must fit additional safety features to gates in public areas. Those in control of the maintenance of electric gates are also reminded to review their risk assessments on a regular basis.

On 28 June this year, six-year-old Semelia Campbell died when she was crushed by electric gates in Manchester. Just five days later, a similar fatal accident involving five-year-old Karolina Golabek occurred in Bridgend, south Wales.

The children were trapped between the closing edge of the gate and the gate post at the end of the gates’ travel. The Police and HSE are still investigating the circumstances surrounding both fatalities, but, in both cases, it has been determined that the children’s presence near the closing edge was not detected and the closing force of the gate when they obstructed it was not limited to the values specified in BS EN 12453:2001.

The HSE’s director of field operations, David Ashton, warned installers and those responsible for maintaining gates that they must ensure that “anti-crushing, shearing and trapping safety protection devices are correctly set and maintained”.

He added: “When manufacturing, designing, or installing electric gates, it’s crucial to consider who will be in the area when they’re operating. If the 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.”

The alert highlights that although suitably-installed and configured photoelectric beams are a possible safeguarding option, pressure-sensitive strips on the closing edge of the gate are more effective when used in combination with force limitation.

In terms of emergency arrangements to release someone should they become trapped, the HSE advises that they should be put in place to ensure that release keys and release instructions are readily available to all authorised users of the gate.

The safety alert, which follows a similar notice in February this year, is available at

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