The long summer vacation is approaching and while children will be looking forward to the chance to kick back and relax, for anyone associated with the maintenance of a school site, this can represent one of the busiest times of the year. The six-week break provides the perfect opportunity to undertake essential maintenance and improvement works, allowing contractors to operate more freely without being confined by the usual restrictions of a bustling school environment.
When reviewing the maintenance needs of the outdoor environment there are now an increasing number of automated gates that feature within a school setting. But whilst these installations offer an excellent means of enhancing site security, unless they are installed in line with best practice and regularly maintained, they are capable of inflicting serious injuries – and have even been responsible for a number of deaths in the UK.
Following survey activity undertaken by Gate Safe, the charity estimates that there could be as many as 20,000 unsafe gates in schools! Aside from the terrible consequences of a person losing their life or being seriously injured, a school which fails to ensure the safety of its gates may well be found liable for negligence by the courts and following recent precedence, could face fines in excess of £80,000, as well as untold reputation damage. In 2014, a council was fined £20,000 after a child lost his fingertips on a school gate in Salford and just last year, a jail sentence was handed down to an installer who was held responsible for a gate which killed a woman, sending out a clear message that those held accountable for negligence will pay a high price for their actions.
Schools should make the most of the summer holidays to make sure that any automated gates (and indeed manual gates) that are within the school grounds meet the stringent safety guidelines that have been agreed. Those responsible for the school site should check the Gate Safe register to identify a competent and suitably trained professional to install / maintain gates.
Visit www.gate-safe.org/find-installers/installers-postcode/ to find a local installer.