Golden thread

For Gate Safe, the safety of automated gates is always firmly rooted in an understanding of the specific factors influencing each individual installation – and ensuring ongoing and updated access to this information. In fact, not dissimilar to the golden thread concept that has hit the headlines in recent months, in relation to building safety…

The golden thread has come about principally as a result of the independent review of building regulations and fire safety, post the Grenfell fire disaster. Dame Judith Hackitt who led the review recommended a ‘golden thread’ of good quality information to ensure buildings were designed, built and managed safely and the government has committed to implementing these recommendations.

The golden thread is both:

  • the information about a building that allows someone to understand a building and keep it safe, and
  • the information management to ensure the information is accurate, easily understandable, can be accessed by those who need it and is up to date

When considering the application of the golden thread principle to buildings, the responsibility lies with those who commission the building work, participate in the design and construction process (the dutyholders) and those who are responsible for managing structural and fire safety in the building once it is occupied (the accountable person).

Gate Safe believes that the same golden thread approach could also be applied to ensure the safe design, construction, installation and maintenance of automated gates.

Let’s begin with the specification of an automatic (or manual gate).
This is determined by the planned usage of the gate and what its primary purpose will be, in simplest terms – what it is intended to keep in or out. After this the procurement, the installation, the handover and finally the ongoing maintenance will follow.

If we consider the various professionals the project passes through, it is easy to understand why in so many cases, the original design for the gate is in sharp contrast to the finished article – frequently resulting in a gate that is no longer suitable.

But, if the golden thread if used correctly it will tie everything together to ensure a seamless finished project, representing not only a high-quality installation as originally intended but also one that is safe and fit-for-purpose.

Here’s how we believe the golden thread can be incorporated within the automated gate sector:

Initially the client will agree with the designer what the gate should look like and how it will operate with probably a basic specification, this represents the start of the thread.

Next follows the procurement stage which will involve using this specification to produce a quote. To maintain the thread of information, this should involve specialist contractors undertaking an office-based risk assessment to identify any risks and their subsequent mitigation, obviously leading to a price for the client. If the thread is to remain unbroken, the buyer should be purchasing not just on the basis of price, but also secure in the knowledge that all safety implications have been fully satisfied.

Upon installation, the installer should carry out a further risk assessment to ensure the details assessed will satisfy both the specific needs of the site and those put forward by the client. Once the works are completed, the installer should check that all the safety devices are working correctly, that they have been accurately sited and that they are activated during the correct phase of the operation.

When the installer hands over the automated gate – which is now legally a machine – there is a requirement for him / her to provide a comprehensive explanation regarding the safe use of the gate. This must cover how to put the gate into manual operation and how to activate the emergency release button. The installer will UKCA mark the gate and issue all the appropriate clear and concise documentation – including the Declaration of Conformity to the client, which will help avoid any risk of misinterpretation or confusion. Compiling the technical file which is a requirement for the installation of all machines, signifies a further component of the golden thread and it is imperative that it is always accessible, since it is likely that this will be the first port of call for any health and safety investigation.

Finally, the client will assume responsibility for the gate / machine and it is their duty to ensure that the maintenance is carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements and installer’s recommendations.

If all of the above are carried out diligently, the golden thread will remain intact. However, any break will almost certainly lead to a gate that is unsafe and in the event of an accident, allowing the thread to be broken could well result in a prosecution.

For more information on how to ensure a safe, fit-for-purpose automated gate installation, visit www.gate-safe.org. As well as providing a wealth of information, the website also includes direct access to the register of Gate Safe trained installers.

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