Crushing Hazards on Electrically Powered Gates
Risks to pedestrians from crushing hazards on electrically powered gates
This safety advice is intended to alert persons who have control to any extent of the operation of electrically powered gates to potential safety risks to pedestrians. It is also of relevance to organisations or individuals involved in the design, manufacture, supply, construction, installation and/or commissioning of electrically-powered gates.
Risks to persons from electrically powered gates were recently highlighted by the deaths of two children in separate incidents in the UK. Investigations into these incidences identified a number of issues relating to the design, installation and commissioning and the management and maintenance of gates during use.
Every employer and self-employed must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the design, provision and maintenance of safe means of access to and egress from a place of work, and the design, provision and maintenance of machinery that are safe and without risk to health.
Similarly there is a duty on a manufacturer of a powered gate to ensure that before placing a product on the market or putting it into use at any place that it satisfies essential health and safety requirements and other related requirements laid down by the European Communities (Machinery) Regulations, 2008 (S.I. No. 407/2008). Compliance with these requirements will normally be achieved by adherence to the relevant European standards, including those referenced below. A conformity assessment must be undertaken prior to their use, and a technical file compiled. Any information or instructions required on how to operate the gates should be made available to the person(s) or organisation that the gates are produced for. An EC declaration of conformity should be produced, and the gates CE marked. Other directives that are relevant include the Construction Products Directive, the Low-Voltage Directive, the Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive and the Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive.
When identifying hazards associated with electrically powered gates, consideration should be given to, among other particulars, the following:
- any points where persons may be injured by being crushed or becoming trapped;
- the forces required for closing/opening the gates and the forces generated by a gate when meeting a person or an obstacle;
- hazards associated with the gates being activated automatically, or by another person (for example, by a sensor under the road surface activating a gate when a car drives over it, or by a remote button or key fob pressed by a third person);
- possible ways in which safe operating systems (such as key-pad or key-fob systems) could be defeated, by-passed or inappropriately operated, and place any person at risk. This is particularly relevant where children, members of the public, or persons not familiar with the safe use of any installation have access to electrically powered gates and may not recognise a risk to their safety.
Wherever possible hazards should be eliminated but for hazards that can not be eliminated, measures which may help to reduce the risk include:
- creating safety distances, e.g. ensuring adequate distance between the control panel and the nearest danger point on the gate;
- installing guards, e.g. a fixed guard to cover mechanical trap points such as guide rollers or sprocket drives;
- operating the gate in hold to run mode;
- limiting the forces;
- installing sensitive protective equipment such as pressure sensitive strips, safety sensor flooring, and light barriers or infra-red detectors (photoelectric devices).
In order to achieve an acceptable level of safety a combination of the above approaches or measures may be necessary. The force of the gates should be limited to those specified in the European standards. The gates should also reverse if they inadvertently hit someone or something, and the gates should have an emergency release mechanism in case someone gets trapped.
Where there are concerns about the safe operation of any electrically powered gate they should be examined by a competent person who is familiar with the requirements of the Regulations and relevant European Directives and Standards.
European Communities (Machinery) Regulations, 2008 (S.I. No. 407/2008)
I.S. EN 12635:2002+A1:2008: Industrial, commercial and garage doors and gates – Installation and use
IS EN 12604:2000:Industrial, commercial and garage doors and gates – Mechanical Aspects- Requirements
IS EN 12453:2000: Industrial, commercial and garage doors and gates – Safety in use of power operated doors – Requirements.