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March 1, 2022

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Woman left brain damaged after being crushed by electric gate, settles case for €8 million

Door & Hardware Federation (DHF) has urged all companies with responsibilities for the safety of automated gates, including owners, managers, and service providers, to ensure that they fully understand the applicable safety standards and apply them.

electronic gatesThe warning comes following a report regarding a woman who was injured by an automated gate in 2016; a case that has just been settled in an €8 million High Court action in the Irish Republic.

The report indicates that the woman, who was in her 40s at the time of the incident, suffered a serious brain injury and is now using a wheelchair as a result of her injuries.

The civil action follows a previous criminal case in which the company responsible, who employed the plaintiff at the time, was prosecuted for a number of breaches of health and safety legislation in relation to the safety of the gate. It appears that the gate in question did not have adequate force limitation protection in an area where a person could be entrapped by the gate.

“The central standard for automated gate safety is EN 12453; this standard has been in use since 2000 with very little change to the requirements for safety in that time,” explains DHF’s Senior Training and Compliance Officer, Nick Perkins.

“When we assess the 20 or more incidents that have sadly led to death, injury and prosecution over the past 10 years, we see that had the standard been applied, the incident would have been avoided.”

The standard requires that the area surrounding the gate should be safe between ground level and 2.5 metres. All hazards that people can reach should be protected such that either the gate cannot make contact at all, or that if it can, the force it can apply to a person must be limited to the levels of force and time prescribed by EN 12453. This does not just apply to the main closing edges, but to all reachable reducing gaps and points of impact.

“Considering the vast numbers of automated entrances in service, there are thankfully relatively few incidents with automated gates but when things do go wrong, the outcome can be devastating,” says Nick. “The recently improved DHF COP document, DHF TS 013:2021-1, provides all the guidance necessary to ensure automated gates and traffic barriers are safe to legal limits. All companies and persons with responsibilities in management, supervision or working on automated gates on site should be aware of the rules explained in TS 013.”

DHF runs nationally accredited training courses that provide a level 2 qualification for safety, whilst for managers, supervisors and the self-employed, it offers a level 4 legislation qualification. DHF TS 013-3 provides valuable guidance for owners and managers procuring new systems and maintaining existing systems in their care.

“We should like to stipulate that there is absolutely no need for automated gates to be unsafe for people,” concludes Nick. “The pain and suffering inflicted on victims, their family members and others affected is totally unnecessary when systems are installed and maintained according to national and European standards. This common-sense approach also avoids the financial damage caused by criminal prosecutions and civil actions for damages that routinely result following such a tragedy.”

DHF’s continuing commitment to tackling the thorny issue of gate safety has shone a much-needed spotlight on unsafe automated gates and raised awareness of what proper installation and maintenance should look like, in addition to how to prevent accidents. It continues to educate and inform professional installers, industry contacts and the general public on the dangers centred around poorly installed and maintained powered gates, in addition to how to report an unsafe gate and what to look for. Through its training programmes, technical specifications, and collaborative working, DHF has seen an encouraging improvement in the quality of gate installations as well as the knowledge of installers in the UK, and it will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the risk of injury, or death, caused by automated gates is eliminated.

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