A gate can be many things: a pathway to freedom, a sign of new beginnings, the opening of a whole new world or maybe just the way into your business. Whatever your gate represents, you need to make sure it conforms to all of the relevant safety regulations. It is the first health and safety issue that your staff, customers or visitors might encounter when accessing your property, so it is important to make sure that it keeps everyone safe as well as ensuring that your business is secure.
You put gates on your business premises in order to protect it from all manner of things, but gates that do not function properly, are dangerous or are not properly maintained can end up doing more harm than good.
Many gates now are automated to reduce the amount of manual input that is required, but this does not mean that there is no chance of an accident or failure occurring. They offer high levels of convenience, style and security but they can pose a high safety risk if they are not properly managed by the business.
All automatic gates are subject to European product safety as well as UK health and safety law, so you need to be on top of what your responsibilities are and what the dangers can be in order to protect the users of the gates and your business.
Risks from gates
Automatic gates can be big heavy objects, which means that they are capable of substantial damage if they go wrong. A member of the public or staff can face being fit or crushed by a gate, not to mention becoming trapped between the parts or dragged by them. In some cases, there may also be a risk of electrocution.
In Britain, we love to moan about the weather, and it can be responsible for a number of safety issues in relation to your gates. High winds can lead to the gate falling over or causing it to come loose from its tracks. Wet weather and changes in temperature can also take a toll on the hinges, rendering them ineffective and causing the gate to more uncontrollably.
Should water seep inside parts of the gate, it might also cause damage to some of the components which can lead to the gate failing or even increase the risk of an electric shock.
The gates can also pose a rise to the people who work on them, as they can trap or crush a person if they are not properly restrained and the residual energy within powered components can cause harm even after they have been disconnect. Not only that but disconnecting live components can increase the risk of crushing. You should also be aware that id the correct safety features have not been fitted when the gate has been installed, then it can be unsafe and create an injury risk at any time.
Gate safety requirements
Taking gate safety seriously should be important to your business, as these powered systems are considered to be machinery and must therefore comply with the relevant rules and regulations, such as the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) of the Machinery Directive. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has the power to enforce this, but the task of complying with the legislation falls to the Responsible Person within the business. A failure to do so can lead to prosecution under UK criminal law.
All gates should also come with a CE mark as well as a Declaration of Conformity and technical file. In order to comply with legislation, they will require a full risk assessment to identify any hazards, estimating the severity of the risk and evaluating any measures that can be taken to reduce this. If you are unable to do mitigate any risks, then you will need to make sure there are adequate warnings as well as instructions on the safe operation of the gate.
Your gate might be perfectly safe when it is first installed, but time ages us all, and it is likely that some elements of your gate might need attention after a while. Part of your health and safety responsibility is making sure that the gate is checked, maintained and adjusted by professional engineers on a regular basis and that this is done thoroughly. This ensures that your gate is always functioning at its best, and any risks are minimised.
As a business owner, you have responsibilities under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 for the construction and maintenance of automated gates on your property. You have a duty of responsibility towards people you do not employ as well as those that you do. You will be expected to know the user instructions for your gate as well as how to switch it off or put it into hold-to-run mode.
Your gates should respond in a safe way when they are interacted with, and they must also be able to account for foreseeable interactions that go beyond their normal use. This might include children playing on the gates or attempts to halt them in their tracks.
Owners, occupiers, landlords and managing agents have ongoing responsibilities for the safety of all users of the gates, whilst those who work on the gates are responsible for what they do and for leaving it in a safe condition for others. If substantial modifications need to be made, this may call for a re-assessment of the gates possibly even a new CE marking.
You should be able to be proud of your gates, what they offer and what they say about your business, and to do this, you need to ensure that they are safe. Keeping them maintained by a properly qualified individual, constantly assessing their safety and making sure that you reduce any risks associated with them means that you are not only compliant with the law, but that everyone that passes through them is as protected as possible.