3 minute read

Gate Safety Is Boring Until It’s Not

PETER ELDRIDGE

Scenario A: A child is playing with a ball in your parking lot. As he follows the bouncing ball through your closing gate, what will happen? Is there risk of the child being crushed, trapped between the gate and the post? Perhaps suffering a broken limb or even dying? Did you as the building manager or owner know the risk existed? What could you have done to prevent it?

Scenario B: A car attempts to “tailgate” through your secure opening as the door/grill is rolling down. What will happen? Will the car strike your grill, causing damage to both car and grill? Will your parking be unsecured for hours or even weeks as you wait for repair parts? Will you have to defend yourself from an improperly filed lawsuit over property damages to the car? What could you have done to prevent it?

As federal standards and expectations that property management will protect their guests continue to rise, there have been some significant changes to the requirements for safety stems on rolling, swinging and sliding gates. Not keeping up with these standards may open you up to lawsuits, but more importantly could cause severe injury or death.

UL325 contains the latest safety requirements. Please see a professional to be sure you are up-to-date. This summary will allow you to take a quick look to see if you are safe or need help.

Every commercial gate and door operator that is currently UL-listed comes with a current sensor to stop the operator and (possibly) reverse it if the motor experiences a current jump due to being obstructed. This is required on new motors, but not on older units installed before Aug. 1, 2018, which should be inspected to ensure they are safe for use.

Since 8/1/18, gates have required protection at every entrapment point—anywhere a person could be wedged between a sliding or swinging gate and a solid object. This can be a safety edge (which provides protection only after contact is made) or safety eyes (that reverse the gate when an infrared beam is interrupted, mounted low enough to protect a fallen person, not the bumper of a car). On new installations this safety must be “fail-safe,” meaning if the safety breaks, the door/gate will not operate in a closing direction.

• Each gate shall be built so a 4-inch disk cannot pass through the gate at any point, protecting people from being dragged by a moving gate they have their head through.

• There cannot be pedestrian access through any moving gate.

• No gate may move at more than one foot per second.

The classification of the building (garage or parking area with four stalls or less, commercial use, industrial use or guarded industrial use) determines the appropriate type and number of safety requirements.

What about old gates?

If they were built to the code in force when installed, older units may be repaired without requiring replacement. But if, in a technician’s professional judgment, the gate is unsafe, a summary of the existing unsafe condition and a proposal for immediate repair should be provided. At the direction of the property owner/manager, the gate or door should be left immobile until safe. Management should be informed and immediate modifications made to protect users. All of this makes sense as we seek to protect our residents and guests from any foreseeable harm.

Now let’s play those scenarios again.

Scenario A: A child’s ball rolls through the gate as it is closing and the child, running behind the ball, trips and falls into the path of the gate. The gate safety eyes are interrupted and the gate immediately stops and reverses to the fully open position, staying there until the child is safely gone.

Scenario B: A car attempts to “tailgate” through your secure opening as the door/grill is rolling down. The safety eyes pick up the tire breaking the beam and stops the gate in time for the car to miss hitting your door. A small investment in safety today will help prevent suffering—both human and financial—for years to come. Act now to see if your security gates and doors are up-to-date, then schedule a time for a professional to inspect and give you a report on the current condition. You’ll be glad you did, and the people you serve will thank you. ❖