Last week’s Gate Safe Summit at the RIBA was an eye opener.
I knew about the dangers of automatic gates, especially to young children, not least because I’d seen the news items and heard about the campaign from my client, Richard Jackson. But even with what I know about architects and their ways of working, I was disappointed by their representation at the event.
In a packed room of over 80 people, there were only two architects/specifiers, in spite of the event being held at the RIBA, the headquarters for architects in London.
The woefully low representation of specifiers of automatic gates wasn’t the most shocking thing about the event however, this was reserved for later on in the conference during the Q&A session. The audience, mostly made up of people who install and maintain automatic gates, began to bubble, and several people stood up to express their concern.
In spite of all the good work that has been done to draw the attention of the supply chain to the dangers of automated gates, in spite of the efforts to explain and simplify the regulations so they can be understood, the main sticking point for several in the audience was on the ground when the decisions were being made.
One gentleman told how he had lost two contracts last year because he recommended HSE compliant gate automation and the client wouldn’t pay for it, and his architect supported the clients decision. He lamented the fact that there were not enough specifiers in the room, because they might be able to convince clients of their responsibilities.
We’re all aware of the CDM regulations and how they put a proportion of responsibility for safety in construction on designers, contractors and clients, but that the buck stops with the client. We also know that if another child dies after an automated gate incident and the architect did not advise the client of their responsibilities, then they would bear part of the blame.
I wonder therefore, why some architects may not be giving their clients the best advice. So I have invited the gentleman who spoke up, and his colleagues at the event, and fellow manufacturers, fitters and maintenance people, to share their experiences here.
My intention is not to provoke defensiveness in my readers, rather to move the debate forward. Perhaps discussing it online we can begin to identify why so many unsafe automated gates are being installed, and what we can do to put a stop to it. Please share your views below.
Paul Bussey says
I am very happy to help Architects get this issue into context.
As Chairman of DIOHAS and SID we are trying to produce proportionate guidance for architects.
see http://www.diohas.org.uk and http://www.safetyindesign.org.uk
Happy to collaborate with specialists in the field to collectively inform architects and clients of the key issues.
Thanks Paul, you are very welcome to also share direct links to material of interest to this topic on this thread.
Steven Swaby says
I think the real question is why are manufacturers of unsafe gate allowing their products to be used where they are not appropriate. Maybe if architects were being told right at the start when they were specifying products by the manufacturer, after all we are not ‘Gate Experts’.
Thats a very important point Steven.
It isn’t possible for architects (or any specifiers) to be experts in all the products they have to specify. This is why it is so important to make the guidance clear and easy to follow, and make sure it is as simple as possible for safe gates to be specified, don’t you agree?
paul bussey says
Unfortunately some manufacturers just want to sell gates, and some contractors will only do the minimum.
A collaborative team approach by simple design reviews with the designer,client,CDM-C, supplier and contractor should resolve this “significant risk” if easy guidance is available. Highlighting the risk issue on early design drawings for resolution in the detailed design stages.
george skorochod says
Hi all – We design, manufacture and install gates that fully meet the current Machinery Regulations and EN standards.
just a few points:
1) Architects and designers tend to be responsible for the initial project designs and if they were made aware of some simple guidelines they would be able to design the infrastructure around the gates area to make a safe gate design a more practical proposition .
2) Manufacturers of gates are often NOT responsible for the design. They follow the lead of the designer/architect/client/CDM and try to “fit” the gates in whatever space is available with insufficient guidance and/or knowledge. Its unfortunate but the majority of Gate Manufacturers are not actually specialists and have little appreciation of what is required in particular for automated gate systems.
3) Under the regulations and safety standards (or the best interpretation that we can get anyway) the person/company automating the gates must become the “gate manufacturer” even if they do not actually fabricate the gate. They then have a legal obligation to manage/coordinate the whole of the system to ensure that it meet the Machinery Regulations and EN standards are are then responsible for issuing the Certificate of compliance.
4) The main issue that I was trying to raise was that EVEN having explained the above, detailed the regualtions, detailed the responsibilities and given guidelines there is still often resistance from professionals who should be assiting us.
5) I am preparing a guide that highlights factors that should be taken into consideration when designing a gated area and will be grateful for feedback.
Thanks for your very useful information George and good to meet you last week.
I think we’re identifying that one of the problems here is that the expertise isn’t available early enough in the process, and by the time it is too much has been invested in an inadequate solution, which is why you’re getting resistance.
Perhaps if we can simplify the process of identifying what the standards are (and naming them) then it will be easier for the right decisions to be made earlier on.
Do you agree with the concept of a ‘Gate Safe’ mark for Accredited Manufacturers and Installers? Seems to me this would go some way to helping release the problem.
george skorochod says
gate safe mark seems to be a longer term aim and there is some debate about how necessary this is if professionals were following some rules. In the meantime it would only be necessary for some simple steps to be taken to improve the situation.
1) Designers/rchitects to be aware of some basic requirements that would make safe gate design more feasible. I AM working on a draft of these but am finding it diffcult to get time free. Maybe the next few days for a basic set of guidelines.
2)CDM and Builders/developers to specify in tenders/documentation that all gate automation installations are to meet the Machinery Regulations and EN standards.
3) CDM and builders/developers to be aware that a company that purports to meet these regualtions and standards has:
a) All engineers CSCS
b) All engineers and designers with proof of risk assessment training – preferably specifically for automated gate systems. There are a number of gate automation equipmnet suppliers that runs these courses.
c) Ownership of properly calibrated force measurement equipment and engineers with training on the use of this equipment.
d) Membership of DHF
More extensive demands would become a shopping list and become onerous to check. The above (apart from d) are simply necessary to be able to show an ability to prepare a risk assessment relavent to gate automation systems, measure forces correctly (and produce records of same). They are also simple to check. Membership of DHF, especially with the amount of effort DHF have put into their (very good) guide, shows a willingness on the part of the installer to partake in the expansion of knowledge and awareness of the regulations relating to automated gate systems.
paul bussey says
I would like to review your guidance an extract the essence for designers to start the design of the context safely . Are copies yet available?
Shaun Fuller says
It is good to see that this issue is being talked about within the right circles. We have been supplying compliant systems within our understanding of the legislations for many years. We are also part of the DHF (Door and Hardware Federation) powered gate group. This group has been set up for exactly this reason and has already provided a guide. The link below will take you to the website and allow you to download a copy of the current guide. It is an ongoing process currently but should provide a staring point for future safe automated gates.
If you do require any further assistance we are always available to assist.
James Darnell says
We’ve been installing gate automation for quite a few years now and believe we do everything right in terms of safety. From the outset we design the installation to be as safe as possible and fill out a specific risk assessment form (most automation manufacturers supply these)then once the installation is complete we carry out a full force test with a force measuring device and complete a report. Once we are happy that the installation conforms we then CE mark it.
All this takes time and therefore adds cost to the job, also the more sophisticated and safer the automation system generally the more expensive. We too have been in the same situation as the gentlemen you mention in your post where we have lost work because we are competing against people supplying less safe automation at a lower cost.
I think this is a problem which is easily tackled on new builds. If new builds couldn’t be signed off without the gate system having all the correct documents to prove that the installation is safe then we would very quickly see a change in attitude to the importance of safe gate installations by clients, architects, builders and installers alike. Again if if home owners had to provide these documents when selling a property with existing automation things would change.
There is still automation equipment available to buy right now where it is impossible to make it conform. I think Gate Safe is a great idea to educate educate people as there are far too many installations still being fitted that are not safe enough.
Shaun Fuller says
DHF powered gate group update;
The final touches are currently being put to a training course put together by members of the DHF powered gate group. the Gate safety diploma is hoped to be the beginning of further advise and certification to ensure that all gates are installed to the same safety levels.
Following on from the guide to gate safety previously released it is hoped that this course will provide further information and recommendations to install automated systems within the required standards. It also includes information on how to risk assess and advice on what types of measures can be used to protect the risk areas.
The first full training course is expected to be at the beginning of September with a further course for October / November.
The course is mainly targeted at those within the industry who install automated systems, installers, designers and specifiers.
Please check out the DHF PGG website for further updates.
If anyone has further questions regarding gate safety please feel free to contact me.
If you are saying automated gates are dangerous for children I agree but this gate automation systems are also important for security purpose.