MEL Health and Safety Consultants

Wiltshire firm fined after child trapped by electric gates at Bournemouth School

A Wiltshire company has been prosecuted for failing to install adequate safety devices on an electric gate that trapped a young child at a primary school in Bournemouth.

On 6 January 2010, a three year old boy, who cannot be identified, was playing around the gate when it closed, trapping him between the gate and the gate post. Parents and passers-by were able to push the gate open just enough to prevent it from closing completely. The child had to be physically pulled free, but escaped serious injury.

At a hearing on Monday (30 September) Swindon Magistrates' Court heard how Camera Security Services Ltd had fitted an electronic closing device to the metal vehicle gates at Heathlands School in West Howe, Bournemouth. However, they failed to fit appropriate sensor safety devices which would have automatically stopped the gates from closing completely if it detected someone was in the way.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the gate automation equipment installed by the company did not meet essential safety requirements and that their assessment had failed to identify the foreseeable risks associated with the crushing point between the gate and gate post. The location of the gate, at the entrance to a primary school, increased the level of risk.

Camera Security Services Ltd., of Glenmore Business Centre, Waller Road, Devizes, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992 and was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £7,000 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Stephan Axt-Simmonds said:

"Camera Security Services Ltd failed to ensure that the equipment they supplied and installed in 2008 was able to operate safely. They had a clear legal requirement in this regard and should also have been mindful that this particular location, the entrance to a primary school, would be used by a particularly vulnerable group: young children.

"This was an easily preventable incident that could have had tragic consequences. Suppliers and installers of gate automation equipment must remember that, by automating a gate, they are creating a machine and they must carry out the proper procedures to ensure the equipment they install does not pose a danger to the public.

"In bringing this prosecution, HSE has taken into account that the director of Camera Security Services Ltd passed away in 2012 and the company is now run by a completely different team of people. Nevertheless, the company is still legally responsible for the supply and installation of this machinery.

"I would encourage all suppliers and installers of electric gates to take a look at the free guidance available on the Door and Hardware Federation website which has been endorsed by HSE."