The holidays represent an ideal time for those responsible for the maintenance of school buildings to undertake any key works safe in the knowledge that this will represent no disruption to staff or pupils.
In addition to any significant building projects, the longer breaks are also when routine maintenance of the building takes place. Within this schedule of works, any schools which feature automated gates should consider undertaking an up to date risk assessment in addition to the recommended six monthly maintenance check to ensure that the gate is in sound working order and remains compliant with current safety guidelines. Now is the time to make contact with a suitably qualified installer (who has undertaken the Gate Safe training to ensure he has the requisite knowledge to appreciate the safety risks / hazard points on a powered gate) to guarantee their availability during the critical summer holiday window of opportunity.
All powered school gates and barriers must be CE marked and must feature a minimum of two different types of safety devices / features to protect gate users from the risk of injury, or worse as a result of becoming trapped by the gate. Gate Safe recommends the use of photo cells (or light curtains) and safety edges. The gate or barrier must also be supported by the appropriate hand over pack. This should include a maintenance log book, instructions on how to put the gate into manual operation, key contacts and details of the location of the control cabinet keys.
During a maintenance check, the installer will consider a number of factors:
- are the safety devices sited to mitigate / eliminate the risks of a gate closing on an object / person
- are the pressure edges of the right size / correctly located to effectively stop and reverse the gate when an object or child is detected
- are there any additional entrapment points on the gate (these can be via any mesh infill, between the vertical pales of the gate, the space between the bottom of the gate and the ground)
- are support rollers on sliding gates protected so that the drawing in hazard has been removed
- is the mechanical integrity of the gate sound? Are the gate posts sufficiently strong and secure? Are the gate hinges on a swing gate showing signs of fatigue? Are they affected by rust, which could render them no longer reliable and potentially unsafe? Are the swing gate hinges fitted so that there are no reducing gaps as the gate opens and closes?
- Are there any changes in the overall setting of the gate? Are the photo cells clear of any litter / debris which could impact on their efficacy in terms of sending a message to the gate controller? Have any additional structures been built which might affect the safe operation of the gate? Has a security topping been added to the gate?
Only a trained installer will have the required insight and understanding to look at the gate in its entirety. For a truly independent viewpoint, Gate Safe provides an unbiased audit service, which will flag up any potential safety issues that can be addressed by an installer.
Act now! Why risk having an unsafe gate as a result of a failure to adhere to the appropriate maintenance? Such action by a school can be costly, both in terms of reputation and potential fines – but ultimately the cost could represent something far graver, a loss of life.