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AESIF News - Bournemouth companies cleared after electric gates death of boy, nine

Bournemouth companies cleared after electric gates death of boy, nine - 01 February 2010

8:00am Tuesday 26th January 2010 TWO companies were cleared on Monday of crimes relating to the tragic death of a nine-year-old boy. Jason Keet suffered fatal injuries after his head was crushed by electric gates at a luxury block of flats in Poole’s prestigious Branksome Park. Despite mother Samantha Whittle’s frantic attempts to save him, the Epiphany School pupil became trapped in a gap between the gate and a brick pillar at the entrance to The Orchard at Balcombe Road in April 2006.

He had reached through to press a button to open the gates normally used by tradesmen leaving the block. Electric Gates Services Ltd, formerly of Charminster Road, Bournemouth, Pearlview Estates Ltd, of Little Forest Road, Bournemouth and Faulkner Gates Limited of Romsey, Hants, were all charged with contravening Section 31 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Yesterday, following almost two days of deliberations, jurors acquitted Electric Gates Services Ltd and Pearlview Estates Limited of the charges.

Faulkner Gates, which earlier pleaded guilty to the offence, is expected to be sentenced next month.

At an inquest held seven months after Jason’s death, his grieving mother, from Hastings Road, Bournemouth, told how she had taken her son and his sister Rhiannon to visit their grandparents at The Orchard. She said he had “slipped through” the gap, adding: “As he pulled back he got his chest and shoulders out but the gap was then too small to get his head through. “I started screaming and went to the gate to try to stop it moving any further. They say you have the strength of 10 people but it didn’t move.”

Jason’s family and the Health and Safety Executive declined to comment until after Faulkner Gates is sentenced.

AESIF Director General

Although I am not able to comment on this case personally, I have released the following:

It has always saddened me as to the loss of life especially with those so young, and yet in truth, I doubt if these losses will be the last. Aesif was set up for this very reason back in 2001, in an attempt to help improve installation standards within our industry, and to raise awareness of Health & Safety in and around automated gate / door entrance ways.

Back in1998 and before AESIF was formed, we all used to say “when someone is fatally injured, installation standards will have to change” installer and distributors will have to work together to provide quality training.

In the Past nine years we have had four fatal incidents involving youngster in gate / garage door incidents, "Two fatalities which occurred in the UK involved the children being lifted up by the door and becoming fatally entangled. In both accidents precautions had not been taken to prevent persons being able to ride up with the doors when they opened

The most recent prosecution involved an 11 year old child, in October 2005, where the building owner pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches and was fined £50,000 with £50,000 costs.

There was also one fatal incident involving a barrier and a thirty five year old adult male,  these coupled with  minor injury’s reported to our office each year.

In Spain there were five fatal incidents involving automation last year.    

Despite well meaning words and our deepest sympathy, there will never be a word, or kindness, or gesture that will replace a loved one for these grieving families. My point is that “We all need to embrace changes in the hope of improving our standards”. The consumer relies on professionals to provide quality installations safe for all.

A life lost in this industry is the responsibility of all, and a clear frailer to address Health & Safety. “We should all be looking to one and other to help achieve change both from within, and with the end users, in an awareness of safety in and around these types of systems”.

I remember back in 2002 when eleven leading importer manufactures were all gathered together, in what was the first non-competitive seminar forum of its kind in the UK. Represented were Italian, Spanish, & American importers, the speakers were Aesif, The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, and Mecmesin.

The outcome of this seminar was a pledge by those attending to help raise awareness off Part P, Directives & Standards, and Health & Safety for all installers within the UK. To some extent this meeting was successful though there were doubters in the early years that AESIF would stand the test of time.

I am pleased to say that we have not had any 'AESIF Members'  involved in incidents of this nature, being only to aware of the standards required by their association.

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“When someone is fatally injured, installations and standards will have to change”

Update

Sentencing ‘Faulkner Gates Ltd’ having admitted breaking the Health & Safety Act 1974 “A spokes person for the company said it sincerely regretted the tragic accident”

The company was fined £80,000 with £40,000 costs

John Birkett

Director General AesiF

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Risks to pedestrians from crushing zones on electrically powered gates HSE

Gate manufacturers and installers, construction and estates and/or facilities management companies

Introduction:

The purpose of this Safety Notice is to alert organisations or individuals involved in the design, construction, installation and/or commissioning of electrically-powered gates to potential safety risks to pedestrians. It is also of relevance to organisations in control of the use and/or maintenance of existing electrically-powered gates.

It will be of particular interest to gate manufacturers, gate installers, those involved in the commissioning of electrically-powered gates, organisations involved in construction projects including the installation of gates, and persons or organisations in control of premises where persons other than their own employees may have access to such gates, such as site management and/or lettings agents.

The information will aid these organisations in identifying any particular hazards in relation to gate design, and then to undertake suitable and sufficient risk assessments as part of their work activities to ensure risks to pedestrians are eliminated and/or controlled.

Background:

An incident involving the death of a nine-year old child has highlighted possible risks to pedestrians from using electrically powered gates.

The powered gates involved in the incident were installed across a driveway leading to a block of privately owned flats. They consisted of two wrought-iron style gate leaves which were hung on two brick pillars, one either side of the driveway.

Two design issues meant that when the gates were in the closed position a gap existed between the spine of each gate and the brick pillars - large enough for a child to put their head and upper body through. This gap then reduced in size when the gates were opened.

The design issues were;

[1]

Photograph 1: Brick Pillars - Corbelled brick pillar increasing gap size

1.   That the brick pillars were constructed in such a way that they were 'corbelled', or 'stepped-in' on their central portion (The base of the pillars were wider than the central portion - see photograph 1);

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2.   The spine of the gates were sat forward of the mounting pin on the motorised arm (located at the heel of the gates). In this instance the term 'spine' is intended to refer to the vertical steel bar located closest to, and parallel to, the face of the brick pillar (see photograph 2).

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The installation left a gap of 160mm at its widest point between the two vertical surfaces of the gate spine and brick pillar.

[2]

Photograph 2: Gate & Motor Arm - Spine of gate sat forward of mounting pin on motor, increasing gap size and creating a crushing hazard

When activated, the gates would begin to open. The forward position of the spine in relation to the mounting pin on the motorised arm meant that the gap of 160mm between gate and pillar would reduce. In this instance the gates reduced to a gap of 110mm once fully opened.

A pedestrian egress button had been placed on the rear of one of the two brick pillars, inside the development. This was intended to allow pedestrians within the development a simple means of activating the gates when leaving the site. The design of this installation meant that the button was within reach of persons on the outside of the development, effectively allowing an unsafe means of activating the gates.

On the day of the incident the child approached the gates in order to activate them without using the intercom system or keypad entry system that had been installed. The child reached through the gap between the gate and pillar to press the internal pedestrian egress button. As the gate opened the gap between the spine of the gate and the pillar reduced. As the gap reduced the child became trapped and crushed.

The motors on the gates were fitted with amperometric sensors to detect obstacles in the path of the gates once the gates were in motion. If the gates struck an obstacle and met resistance they would stop moving. In this instance the sensors were ineffective due to the forces involved at the spine of the gate.

The gates had also been fitted with a light beam sensor between the two pillars. This was intended to detect an obstacle between the pillars to prevent the gates from closing onto a vehicle. It was not designed to identify the presence of a person in the crushing zone nor prevent a person from activating the gates.

Action required:

When designing, constructing, installing and/or commissioning electrically powered gates, or where managing sites where electrically powered gates exist, employers and the self employed must ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that:

1.   They have undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to identify any hazards and associated risks to persons using the gates. This should include consideration of the following;

a.  the identification of any trapping and/or crushing zones where employees or persons not in your employment (such as contractors or members of the public) may become trapped and injured;

b.  the identification of ways in which safe operating systems (such as key-pad or key-fob systems) may be defeated or by-passed and place employees, non-employees (such as contractors), or members of the public 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;

c.   The identification of ways in which persons may be harmed by the gates should they be 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);

d.  Risk assessments should be undertaken as early as possible. Undertaking a risk assessment at the design phase will allow an opportunity to design out risks at an early stage;

e.  Any design changes should be subject to a revised risk assessment to ensure the changes have not introduced new hazards or risks;

f.    Where more than one organisation is involved in the design, construction and installation of the gates their input into the risk assessment process should be sought. This will aid the risk assessment process, drawing on and sharing expertise and knowledge of best practice from different professions (such as metalwork fabricators and electricians with experience of installing electrically powered gates);

g.  When the installation is complete, a final risk assessment should be undertaken

2.   They have eliminated and/or controlled any risks identified from the risk assessment(s). Wherever possible risks should be eliminated, but where they need to be controlled technology such as fixed guards, pressure sensitive strips, safety sensor flooring, light barriers or infra-red detectors may help control and/or reduce the risk, but consideration needs to be given to how a person may still be harmed if one of these systems fail;

3.   Where two or more employers and/or self employed persons (such as contractors) are involved in work surrounding the gates there must be effective co-operation and co-ordination between work activities. Ensuring there is effective communication between different organisations will help ensure that hazards and associated risks from the various build phases are continuously identified and controlled;

4.   Where your organisation uses contractors you should satisfy yourself that the contractor is sufficiently competent to carry out the work that is asked of them. Their work should be periodically monitored and reviewed;

5.   Any component parts (such as motors and motor arms) supplied by separate manufacturers should be installed in accordance with the manufacturers guidance, and used in accordance with their instructions for use;

6.   Where the gates are defined as a machine under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 a conformity assessment must be undertaken by a responsible person 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; One way of achieving this is to follow EN12635 from the outset of the project.

7.    Persons adopting the responsibility for the management and maintenance of the gates should be provided with the appropriate safety documentation, instructions for use, and training in how to operate and maintain the gates safely. Persons using the gates regularly should be given appropriate information, instruction and training on how to operate them safely;

8.   Regular reviews or assessments are undertaken to ensure that the gates are maintained in a safe condition.

See full link to HSE

http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/electricgates.htm

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