We at Gate Safe have always believed that every automated gate must undergo a strict risk assessment to review the key factors impacting the safety of each specific installation. We have also long advised that safety needs to be designed into the gate at the outset, rather than being tacked on as an afterthought – the latter approach is potentially dangerous, both in terms of the possibility of the gate causing a serious accident and with regard to the additional expenditure required to make changes after the fact.
This is why we’re launching a new campaign for 2023: Gate Safety by Design. Each month we will give tips for installers to ensure that the fundamental design of the gate represents a safe installation that will avoid the hazardous consequences of a single point failure. This month our focus is on three as our magic number.
TWO IS NEVER ENOUGH
The British and European Standard BS EN 12604 was updated in 2017 to state that all swing gates should be fitted with three hinges. However, bafflingly, we note that some gate manufacturers have still failed to address this issue – putting themselves directly in the firing line in the event of an accident and any associated claims. This matter clearly needs to be taken more seriously within the gate industry. Installers should be aware that the simple fact that the standard has been updated does not infer that gates fitted prior to that date can be deemed safe; it merely means that the danger had not previously been recognised. When servicing any swing gate installed prior to the introduction of the new guidance, installers should protect their businesses and their reputations by fitting a third hinge or, at the very least, a tether fixed between the hang post and the gate leaf, in order to eliminate of a catastrophic gate fail.
THE UNDERGROUND OPERATOR MYTH
There also appears to be a view circulating in the field that fitting a third hinge with an underground operator is not good practice, due to the difficulty of aligning the hinges accurately. Remember, the purpose of the additional hinge is simply to prevent the gate leaf falling in the event that one of the other two hinges fails. It does not need to offer constant support. The solution to this problem is to position the third hinge with a little clearance between the pin and the eye, for example a 19 millimetre pin in a 25 millimetre eye. This is sufficient to stop the gate from toppling in the event of a hinge breaking.
INVERTED HINGE WARNING
We still come across newly-installed gates with an inverted top hinge, which is done to prevent the gate leaf being lifted from its hinges. Always remember that gates with inverted hinges – even if there are three of them – can pose even greater risks. Installations featuring inverted hinges mean that the full weight of the gate leaf is being supported by one hinge, therefore significantly increasing the possibility of failure – and thus of the gate leaf falling.