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10 November 2016 | Graeme Hazlewood
Some 500,000 powered gates and barriers are installed in the UK with 12,000 added yearly, and many FMs have them on their property without knowing the responsibilities that come with them. The problem isn't the number of powered gates, but the poorly understood risks associated with them, writes NSI's Graeme Hazlewood
Deaths and serious injuries from powered gates are rare, but minor injuries and damage to property are frequent; powered gates are exposed to frequent use and the elements. If they are not properly installed and maintained they may become unsafe.
As a landlord or agent running a business, you have responsibilities under the Health & Safety at Work Act requiring you to keep your premises safe, including gates and barriers on the property.
You can meet your obligations by making sure contractors working on the property are technically competent and comply with the law. If you fail to do so you could be prosecuted, be fined and suffer reputational damage.
For a new installation the installer will normally be liable for defects in design and installation as the law requires that they are safe when handed to the client. But if the installer can show the incident is a result of poor subsequent maintenance, liability shifts to the owner or facilities manager.
After maintenance has been carried out the gate should be safe. If the maintainer identifies a problem that makes the gate unsafe it should advise what must be done to rectify this. If the maintainer fails to do this and keeps the gate operational, it may be liable, but an owner who doesn't take the advice and operates the unsafe gate regardless will take on liability.
Five steps to gate safety
Step 1: Installers must provide user instructions, safety warnings, maintenance instructions and a logbook of maintenance and repairs. The paperwork establishes who the installer was, if the gate has been maintained and by whom. This is especially important if you've 'inherited' gates.
Step 2: All you need to know about powered gates is in the DHF (Door and Hardware Federation) TS 011: 2016: Code of Practice for the Design, Manufacture, Installation and Maintenance of Powered Gates and Traffic Barriers (from the DHF website).
Step 3: Does the gate meet the 'STARS' test?
- Structural integrity: Are all physical stops in place and secure? Are there any cracks in welds or loose components?
- Technical: Are areas where someone could be hit, crushed, drawn in, cut or trapped by the gate protected by guards, safety devices or motion detectors?
- Action: Do you know how to manually release the gate's leaves if they trap someone?
- Reliability: Does the gate need to be continually repaired?
- Safety and control devices: Do safety devices (photocells, safe edges and force limitation motors) operate correctly?
Step 4: Assuming your gate is being maintained, arrange for the company to come on site to discuss any code concerns. If it is not being maintained you may want to put this on the agenda.
Step 5: If you're looking for a new gate, or need one checked, use firms working to the DHF Code of Practice, including those certified through the NSI Gates Certification Scheme and members of the DHF Powered Gates Group.
TS 011:2016 - what does it cover?
The code explains that new powered gates and barriers must be provided in compliance with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations, which have brought the European Machinery Directive into UK law since 1995 without significant change. To comply, a gate or barrier must have been risk-assessed to identify all associated hazards, which of the Directive Essential Health & Safety Requirements apply, and then explain in detail how they have been satisfied.
Once safety has been achieved, the gate supplier must provide detailed instructions on safe use and the continuing maintenance that will be necessary to keep the installation in a safe condition.
The supplier must issue a Declaration of Conformity and apply a CE mark. Detailed evidence of the entire conformity process must be retained by the manufacturer in a technical file to prove compliance to the relevant national enforcement authority in case there is an accusation of non-conformity, or an incident involving the system.