Automated gates - a further tragedy waiting to happen?

January 2011: A national campaign to improve the safety of automated gates in the wake of the death of two children in separate incidents in 2010, is challenging the government’s apparent failure to recognise the need for immediate and critical action and claims another tragedy could be imminent if the matter is not addressed with the utmost urgency.

The Gate Safe initiative, which was set up by Kent based Jacksons Fencing in September 2010, has repeatedly advised of the impending danger associated with the potential plethora of unsafe automated gate installations throughout the UK and Wales. This warning relates to the fact that whilst guidelines and legislation exist to ensure the safety of automated gates, not everyone involved in the installation cycle is aware of them and even if they are aware, there are elements which are subject to interpretation. In addition more needs to be done to ensure the policing of gates which were installed prior to the guidelines coming into force – and to review the on-going maintenance of any automated gates post installation to ensure they remain compliant.

Jacksons has been involved in two random gate audits in Kent and in Wales. Of the 67 gates audited in Kent, 0% were fully compliant. Of the 20 gates audited in Wales for (BBC Wales’ Week In, Week Out* documentary on automated gate safety which was screened last month), only 10% were fully compliant. These small-scale samples demonstrate the possible magnitude of the problem.

Richard Jackson, CEO Jacksons Fencing says “The Health & Safety Executive appears to have no means to fast track any action, since, whilst recognising that more needs to be done to tighten and clarify the regulations, we have been advised that it will be pushing this through at EU level. According to the HSE, there is no expectation for this to be concluded within a 10-year time frame. Ten years, during which there will no doubt be repeated incidents and sadly, more fatalities. Do we really have to wait for another child to die before we can initiate change? Gate Safe has already done much to raise awareness of this issue by hosting the first Gate Safety Summit, visiting Downing Street with a petition and setting up an informative web site. We are delighted to have seen support for the campaign from a number of companies and organisations, including RoSPA and IOSH (Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) and are now hoping that our first Technical Working Party meeting which takes place 5 January 2010 with the HSE scheduled to attend, will result in further radical action. Everyone involved in the Gate Safe initiative feels strongly that speed is of the essence to prevent the occurrence of any further tragedies”.

For further details of the Gate Safe campaign visit www.gate-safe.co.uk (which includes a Gate Safe check list). Don’t forget to email Gate Safe with details of any progress that you make at: info@gate-safe.co.uk

* the documentary charted the plight of the Golabek family, whose five year old daughter Karolina tragically died in an automated gate accident in July 2010. The incident occurred in Bridgend, South Wales.

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