Safety is the very highest priority when installing an automatic gate system and AGD Systems take this very seriously indeed.
It is all too tempting to cut corners for the sake of financial savings, but if you do the consequences could be disastrous.
The Importance of Installing Appropriate Safety Systems on Automated Gates
In these challenging financial times, some installers are choosing to offer safety equipment as an optional extra when quoting and installing automated gates. Sadly in too many instances, the lack of appropriate safety and end user training has had tragic consequences.
Many automated gates installed before regulations were introduced were installed without any safety. Many of the potential hazards that these historical installations present can be minimised by upgrading or retro fitting modern safety devices to work with the existing automation systems.
If you are considering installing automated gates, it can be tempting to choose the installer offering a few hundred pounds cost saving by installing a system with minimal or no safety at all and thinking “it’ll be alright what could possibly happen?” If a gate hits or crushes a vehicle it can be repaired, if it traps or crushes a child the consequences can be tragic.
A competent installation company will visit your site and carry out a Risk Analysis. As well as assessing the practicalities of the installation, this is to assess the potential hazards that could be introduced by the automated gates. The level of risk for each hazard is assessed as a combination of the seriousness of the hazard and the effects and possibility that the hazardous situation could occur. The seriousness of the hazard is specific to the installation and the users of the gate safety and maintenance or premises. For example if a two metre high solid boarded timber gate were being installed at a retirement home then the risk of collision with a person is more likely and the potential consequences more severe than if a 1m high 5 bar gate were being installed on the entrance to a paddock.
Once the potential hazards have been assessed, the installer can then select the appropriate automation equipment and necessary safety devices to minimise or eliminate the potential impact of those hazards. Some of the key hazards to be assessed as part of a risk assessment when installing automated gates are:
During opening and closing there is a risk that the gates could collide with a person, vehicle, animal or other object. The risk of collision differs depending on how the gates are commanded to move, the type and height of gate e.g. solid boarded or open railing, and the users/ visitors to the property e.g young children, elderly and disabled typically are unable to react and move out of the path of a moving gate quickly enough. All of these factors influence the type and level of safety required.
During the opening and closing phase, especially with a short sliding gate with finials, there is a risk of a person’s clothing getting caught on the gate and being dragged by the gate as if they were on a conveyor belt. The likely hood of this occurring becomes greater if the gate is installed on the boundary of a property and a public space.
The potential for crushing can be to vehicles, people, pets or other objects and can come from several places on any single installation.
Swing gates present the potential for crushing as the two gate leaves close together, between the gate and posts at the hinges, between the underside of the gates and the road surface has the potential to crush feet. If the gates open against a solid surface such as a fence or a brick wall there is a potential to crush if the gap between the gate and the solid object is insufficient.
- Electric Shock
The majority of automated gate installations require a 230V supply. (with the exception of low voltage solar powered systems). Consequently the installation of the supply is subject to the regulations of BS7671 and should be installed and inspected by a competent person certified to Part P of the building regulations. If this supply is incorrectly installed then there is the potential to receive an electric shock from the gate.
In May 2003 the Government announced that it was introducing a new Part to the Building Regulations, Part P, which would bring domestic electrical installation work in England and Wales under the legal framework of the Building Regulations. It will, for the first time, place a legal requirement for safety upon electrical installation work in dwellings, although the sector is highly regarded for its high levels of conformity with its chief standard, BS 7671.
It was announced that Part P would only be introduced in law when self-certification schemes were in place to ensure competency of the work undertaken. Such schemes are now in place. Part P of the Building Regulations became a legal requirement on January 1st 2005.
As of 1 January 2005 it is a legal requirement for all work on fixed electrical installations in dwellings and associated buildings to comply with relevant standards. The relevant UK standard is BS 7671:2008, 'Requirements for electrical installations' (The IEE Wiring Regulations 17th Edition). BS 7671 covers requirements for design, installation, inspection, testing, verification and certification. Part P covers any electrical work undertaken In a garden or in or on land associated with a building where the electricity supply is from a source located within or shared with a dwelling.
The term dwelling includes houses, maisonettes and flats. It also applies to electrical installations in business premises that share an electricity supply with dwellings, such as shops and public houses with a flat above. Part P applies to electrical installations located in outbuildings such as detached garages, sheds and greenhouses and applies to parts of electrical installations located on land around dwellings such as garden lighting and automated gate installations.
During opening and closing, gates have the power and potential to push a person, animal or small object. This could result in a person being knocked over. As with a collision hazard, The risk differs depending on how the gates are commanded to move, the type and height of gate e.g. solid boarded or open railing, and the users/ visitors to the property e.g. young children, elderly and disabled typically are unable to react and move out of the path of a moving gate quickly enough. All of these factors influence the type and level of safety required.
This is a significant hazard to be considered when installing sliding gates. The potential occurs when the gate passes any fixed vertical object such as a post or the bars of railings. If an object such as a person’s arm were to get trapped between the gate and the post and the gate were to continue moving then the shearing forces could causes an injury such as a broken arm or at worst with a very large gate it could act like guillotine blades. There are simple and effective ways to minimise or in many cases eliminate this risk such as using mesh panels behind railings to stop arms being passed between the bars.
There are two primary trapping hazards:
1. Where a space is created big enough for a person or animal to stand behind the gate when it is opened but without any means of escape if the gate didn’t close. Another hazard commonly found in blocks of flats is where the gate opens onto the door of a bin store. When the gate is opened, if a person was in the bin store they would be trapped as the door cannot be opened until the gate is closed.
2. Trapping of persons, or body parts in the automation mechanism or in the fabric of the gate. This is much more serious and potentially dangerous of the two.
If you have read this far, you may be wondering why anyone would consider installing such a potentially dangerous machine!
Please be assured that with the correct site survey, risk assessment and subsequent informed choice of automation equipment and safety devices, your gates will provide years of reliable, safe service. The major automation equipment manufacturers continue to develop new and improved equipment with enhanced obstacle detection and safety devices to enable safer automation solutions to be supplied and installed.
The following two pages have been taken from the Hand over documentation that AGD Systems provides with all installations and shows pictorially some of the potential hazards that have been discussed previously.
Important Safety Information – Avoiding Potential Hazards
The diagrams below show the layout of typical swing gate automation system and highlight the potential hazards associated. Additional hazards ( if any) applicable to your specific installation are shown on the next page.
Important Safety Information – Avoiding Potential Hazards
The diagrams below show the layout of typical sliding gate automation system and highlights the potential hazards associated. Additional hazards (if any) applicable to your specific installation are shown on the next page.