It has recently been reported that a Swansea based gate installation company together with a Cardiff based maintenance firm have been sentenced in relation to serious safety failings that resulted in the death of a 5 year old girl who was crushed to death by an electric gate
Karolina Golabek died as a result of being trapped between the closing edge of the gate and the post outside flats close to where she lived in Bridgend on 3 July 2010.
After the incident, the Health and Safety Executive carried out a full investigation and found that the gate was both unsafe and posed a clear and obvious risk to any users or people in the vicinity. As a result of this investigation the 2 companies in question were prosecuted.
On Thursday 12 June 2014, Cardiff Crown Court heard that the girl was playing near the gates when they closed automatically after a car had gone through the entry point. A short time later she was found in between the post and gate by a passing resident. At that time she was rushed to hospital but unfortunately died as a result of her injuries.
The HSE`s evidence found that the amount of force applied to the gate did not comply with EU and British safety standards as the load was in excess of 2000N (this equates to a weight equivalent of 220kgs)
In addition to this, the gate structure itself also posed a real danger as the design allowed space for people to become trapped and was not fitted with sufficient safety devices that should have stopped the gates movement if it sensed an object or person in its path of travel.
Evidence was also given that when the new motor was fitted it was put back into use even though there were obvious trapping points that could result in injury. The company also failed to properly test the safety features to ensure they stopped when an obstruction was detected.
As a result of this court case, the Swansea based company was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay £40,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The second company in question based in Cardiff was fined £50,000 with costs of £40,000 also pleaded guilty to the same charge.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Stuart Charles, said:
“Karolina’s death has left her family devastated, and yet it could so easily have been avoided. Both companies walked away from the gate leaving it in an unsafe condition. Both could have prevented this tragedy. Automated gates are becoming more common and it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate that even small gates can close with significant force. Badly installed and maintained gates are a threat to all pedestrians, but young children are particularly vulnerable because they are often completely unaware of the dangers. No-one should install or work on automated gates without knowing the relevant safety standards or without having the right equipment to check that the gate is safe after they have worked on it”.
Further information about electric gates can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/electricgates2.htm
As a supply only company we get asked on a regulr baisis if we are able to supply gate automation suitable for DIY installation however it is the policy of Wrought Iron Gates Direct not to supply such products to anyone oher than a fully trained installer as the result can be catastrophic in the event that it is not installed in the correct manner.