The Safety of Powered Gates

There are many things that we take for granted in the world we live in today. They are the simplest of things that make our daily activities better. Whether it is our cell phones and all the attachments they include, pneumatic actuators and the ease of functioning they offer us, or the powered gate.

The powered gate allows us to free up labour costs by reducing the redundant position of guard duty. It provides a sense of security for offices, job sites, and communities. But, with the convenience of an unmanned barrier, and the reduction of labour costs comes the flip side, an apparatus that at best is monitored by security cameras and placard signage. This doesn’t always convey the message in the best way to prevent potential injuries and even death at the hands of these devices.

child begogAgencies worldwide set into place rules to follow to ensure that uneducated people who trust that we have taken every safety precaution into consideration, will not fall victim to the negative actions these powered gates can sometimes administer, such as getting trapped, being crushed or, even death.

Organizations such as the HSE, and OSHA foresee the possibilities of what can happen, and recognize the accidents in recent years that have happened, and have required actions that responsible persons that work on, operate, or own must follow to ensure everyone’s safety going forward.

When you fall into the one of the categories that makes you a responsible person, you must ensure that these devices are safe, and that they are inspected on a regular basis, ideally you document that inspection on a daily walk sheet. Upon inspection you want to ensure that the device is effective in its functionality. The gate should be installed according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Once the gate is installed, and the user instructions have been transferred to the owner from the competent installer, the owner must check that the following mechanisms and features are in place and operable. Putting these together on a daily checklist is a great starting point.

Gateway Checklist

checklist imageDo you have a minimum of two devices or accessories that will prevent entrapping an individual? Required, are a device to sense obstruction, and reverses the gate when it becomes obstructed while being opened, or closing. A second device that performs the same service. The goal is to create a redundancy in a second spot to ensure that all precautions are taken.

Take points of interest from you installation inspection, and apply them to the daily checklist. For example, have all gaps of 2.25 inches or 57mm been eliminated. Have the operating controls been installed far enough away from the gate so that it is impossible to access the gate while operating? Is the gate in full view of the controls while operating? Have all pinch points been eliminated? Do the exposed rollers have guarding installed?

Approach slowly, gate will open - signDo you have warning or advisory signs on each side of the gate to prepare the user for operation? Ideally you will have an inventory of each sign on hand to replace when they become worn out from the sun, or are broken or ripped off from inclement weather.

Ensure that the exposed edges have a safety strip on them, running the length of the gate to avoid injury from pedestrian traffic. Does your gate have a force limitation device that is capable of stopping an individual from getting trapped or injuring someone when it senses a physical blockage? Finally does the fence or stopping closed point, which is a fixed point, working in conjunction with the gate have a fixed guard that protects the gate when closed and not operating?

Finally, there are four types of people that will be interfacing with your powered gates. The competent person that is installing and repairing the system. This person will most likely create the least traffic through the opening. The owner, this person may or may not use the gate every day, but is legally obligated to be the most knowledgeable in its operation. The third individual will operate the gateway most often, the employee or resident. They will rely on its safe operation daily. They will need the owner to be proactive with preparing the gate to operate flawlessly. Lastly is the curiosity seeker. This may be an animal, or an uneducated person. They unknowingly require the safety devices and signage in place to ensure that they don’t become trapped, injured or killed.

The powered gate is a great addition to a work or residence. The costs associated with maintaining it on a daily basis, is always going to be less expensive and less traumatic then reacting after the fact, if an accident has occurred.