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Highlighting installations that kill

by Andy Clutton

Gate safe14On the eve of Gate Safety Week 2014 the Door & Hardware Federation’s general manager and secretary Michael Skelding talks to PSI about the dangers of badly installed systems and what can be done to prevent further injuries and fatalities

In 2010 two tragic accidents, completely unrelated, occurred within days of each other involving small children and automated gates. Semelia Campbell and Karolina Golabek were both killed in electric gate accidents on June 28 and July 3. The Door & Hardware Federation (DHF), which represents manufacturers of industrial and commercial doors and shutters, garage doors and building hardware, set up its Powered Gate Group on behalf of the UK gate automation industry. It immediately became clear that although there were formal standards in place, specifically governing the safe operation of powered gates, there was little knowledge of them, particularly amongst installers.

“The result was the shocking realisation that an estimated two thirds of installed gates did not meet current safety standards and were therefore potentially unsafe,” recalls Michael Skelding of the DHF. “It was up to the industry itself to raise standards of powered gate safety. The DHF Powered Gate Group grew rapidly and now numbers more than 75 member companies comprising the UK manufacturers, suppliers, installers and maintainers of powered automatic gates and gate automation equipment.”

To put the problem in simple terms, a powered gate only poses a safety risk if it is incorrectly installed and/or not regularly maintained. Adherence to the DHF Guide to Powered Gate Safety, installation by trained installers and regular maintenance by skilled personnel will ensure that any powered gate is safe to use.

“Specifiers and customers should look for certain key features that will assure them the gate is safe,” says Michael. “The installer must supply a Declaration of Conformity with every new gate installation and a CE mark should be affixed to the gate. All automatic gates should be protected by touch sensitive control devices – typically active rubber safety edges or intelligent drive units – that will ensure the gate retracts if it encounters an obstacle.”

There should also be light beams across the entrance as a backup measure. Light beams should never be the sole protection measure – unless they form multi beam curtaining that prevents all possible access to the moving gate.

The hinge area of the gate should be protected by flexible guards or rubber safety edges, or have constant gap hinges. Getting a foot trapped under the gate can be prevented by either rubber safety edges, or a 120 mm safety clearance, or be flush with the ground so that a child’s foot cannot fit under the gate.

Where a gate creates a shearing hazard as it passes a fixed support element, wall or fence – which is very comment with a sliding gate – there should be rubber safety edges or fencing to prevent access to the dangerous movement.

Read the full interview in the October edition of PSI magazine

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