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AESIF News - British Standard BS EN 12604

British Standard BS EN 12604 - 21 June 2021

I wanted to talk to you about the AESIF APP, but having been on other websites recently I have decided to cover the BS EN standards and more importantly gossip about the Machinery Directives in general.

I have recently read with interest an article on the Gate Safe website “Three is the magical number” which refers to “British Standard BS EN 12604 has been updated to state that all swing gates should be fitted with three hinges, it remains baffling to note that gate manufacturers continue to fail to address this issue – and run the risk of putting themselves in the firing line in the event of an accident and any associated claims”. Well shoot me in the foot for what I am about to say but. OK

Firstly the Machinery Directive and the BS EN Standards are there to help all installers get a grip of important issues in regards to all types of safety aspects in doors, gates, and barriers with in our industry sector, some of the guidance notes are really important for safety reasons and provide a wealth of excellent background information on the design, technical information and product skill. The standards are there to help a designer get better working knowledge of the industry. “But the BS EN standards them self’s, and the information must be clear workable and uncluttered in there factual use”.

Free swinging gate manual or automated in suspension “clearance under the leaf to ground level” should now be considered to require three hinge hanging points if the design of the hanging style prevents this, a tether to prevent falling should be used in compliance.

Note: there are many different types of gates and hanging components today. So state the reason and give an explanation in the amendment on the handover document and amend the maintenance schedule accordingly. A gate leaf that is “supported i.e. and fixed at ground level” is not an unsupported gate in suspension that can drop, two different types of gate achieving the same function but with different characteristics.       

Training: If you have been on one of the industry training course, the purpose of the training is to help you get an understanding of the Machinery Directive the BS EN Standards, and at the end of the course you will be able to use the BS EN Standards guide notes to cross reference the material provided and hopefully the knowledge obtained will enable you to form the right judgement in the use of the information.   

OK so back to the article and talking to installers about this subject and one gets the feeling that they are moving away from swing gates in there droves, and this is possibly not surprising in trying to be compliant.  One installer explained. The problems associated with the hinge arrangements and there intended use within the gate design, the issue surrounding there safety are explained to the end user, on commercial / industrial installation under the guidance of the BS EN Standard 12604 they listened and accept the advice given? But on domestic installation customers just don’t get it at all, “there is nothing wrong with the hinge you’re not putting another hinge on”!.

And funnily enough neither do their counterparts all the way across the EU! are you surprised. I am not sure to hum we have to thank, or which group was responsible for the amendment to the Standard / Norm, but have they got it right ““It begs the question, I fear that something has been omitted in translation /publication”.  I understand the argument for additional safety but for safety’s sake, and unfortunately there is no date for the article on the website.

The main reason for a gate / door is to keep people out security, so this hinge arrangement psychologically “in the way that affects the mind” if you have a third hinge “that is not required” at say waist height, our brain tells us for some absurd unknown reason to put our hand on it, “it’s like a magnet to our eye sight, its compelling and it just draws you in and you can’t stop yourself”. Now you give me  a good reason why you would want to do this?, I have seen this happen so many times now it’s just unbelievable I reiterate for children it’s just like a magnet and it’s also  so compelling to touch no matter what the age group. I know that other installer have experienced this reaction too.

There have been very compelling reasons in the past for omitting this from the BS standards, An unwanted hinge or loop creates the opposite effect that we are trying to create, it actually creates an aid, foothold, a climbing frame, a handhold and right at the point that a person is most venerable children climb “to draw or pull oneself up and over” on absolutely anything, the thought prose’s is a good idea on merit but for all the wrong reasons.  What is needed is a better maintenance and service program. There are also other problems with the new amendments but I will leave these out of this article.  

So if you are still reading this, I have your attention and you need an explanation.

The manufacture installer of an automated gate is responsible under the Machinery Directives 2006/42 EU for the design function and compliance and the principle safe use, and the designer should also have an idea of the life expectancy of the gate. This period multiplied possibly by the number of maximum operation or the expected life in serviceable years, there is a point to this statement under the Machinery Directives 2006/42 EU. forth coming amendments  BS EN 12604:2017+A1:2021


It all revolves around one very important item that missing in the above statement “have you got it Think?”

Explanation hand over pack including certificate of conformity and maintenance records.

The end user agent, owner and duty holder of the installed gate now has a duty to have a regular monthly maintenance programme in place on a commercial gate installation, it’s also advisable quarterly on a domestic automated gate by the user, and they should report any problems outside of their control to the manufacture. They are also required to have a defining schedule maintenance programme yearly by a suitably qualified inspector / installer  “Remember Training” that’s you, in order to carry out an inspection check and are required to register the visit on a maintenance documents, any visible signs of wear and tear/ or replacements required are noted, and this work should be acted upon.

Forgive me but at what point in time dose the gate hinge become unsafe / fail if we are carrying out our duty in compliance with the Machinery Directive.  I have personally seen gate hinges that are worn out and badly in need for changing, but in general it is because of years of neglect.

Example: Regulated hinges on gates with underground support, this type of hinge “will not work as a threesome” in aligning or when adjustment to offsetting a pair gate to the centre, or in reducing an associated twist in the gate leaf.  It would be dangerous to attempt this, and in time may cause catastrophic failure.

Any out of line adjustments can wear the main pin on the underground gate support arm within the underground unit box and shorten the life span of the automation unit you would be creating a problem that didn't previously exist.

“And now for the fun part?” At what point do we need to take the gate of an underground automation motor to inspect for normal wear in ageing, associated with the functionality and stability of the gate pin and manual release mechanism. Every three years maybe, don’t forget it is your responsibility and don’t forget your H.S.E. Have you ever tried to get a gate leaf off on an underground box let alone try to put the gate back on, it’s not going to be easy in Three’s.

Example: On an old underground motor installation that has not been checked or maintained the gate drive arm wears into the top of the motor and gearbox this is due to years of neglect, or no top pin support “meaning there is a gap between the hook and eye i.e. running face” and or more commonly a lack of grease lubrication possibly. We have all seen this and it requires replacement as it is unsafe in use. “CHANGE AUTOMATION AND REPLACE TOP SUPPORTS”.

There are many different types of hanging devises used within the market place today which offer a closed shackle arrangement with bronze bushes a grease point and that gives four times the weld-able surface area for greater compliance and serviceable life. Remember it’s your design you get to choose the right fitting and attachment.

News article picture 

Now let’s talk about risk assessment: to safely remove and rehang the gate on three hinges without putting yourself in a place of finger entrapment. It’s not been well thought out. And so far we have not even covered the making aware of the strap support let’s leave that for another day. I live in hope that you can now rest easy in your beds. 

John Birkett

P.s. comments expressed and views are of a personal view in relation to a published article only.  

AESIF maintains its supports of the current Machinery Directives & the work within the BS: EN: Standards. 


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