Why Safety Edges Shouldn’t Be The First Choice For Safe Gates

Posted by Steve Jones 29/06/2017 0 Comment(s) Gate Automation Safety,

Why safety edges are not the first element in safe gate design


Safety edges are often touted as the best solution for gate safety. After all, what could be better than stopping and reversing a gate when it comes into contact with an obstacle?


But what if the obstacle is a child or a pet or a car? It is better to fit enough additional safety devices so that the gate stops before it has knocked over your toddler or puppy or made a mark in the wing of your £50,000 car?


Two things are better:

One – Not letting a gate hit the obstacle at all

Two – Not letting ‘obstacles’ get into places where they could be hit by a moving gate


Photocells and Gate Safety


These work by sending a beam of invisible light between two photocells. If this beam is interrupted, the photocells send an electrical signal to a gate control panel telling the gate to do something.  If the photocells are used for safety, the gate action will be to stop or to stop and reverse. With appropriate positioning of photocells, people and vehicles can pass through without them ever coming into contact with moving gates.


There are suggestions that photocell beams can be avoided by jumping or stepping over them, or crawling under them. But this requires considerable athleticism and a dedicated effort to avoid the beams of well sited photocells.


If additional gate safety is required on sites where public access and potential attempts to avoid safety photocell beams could occur, mechanically preventing access to danger areas is the ultimate solution. As a n example, schools may use sliding gates to control access and ensure pupil safety during the day. But children are adventurous and learn from experience as much as instruction.  This could lead to attempts to defeat photocells by crawling under or jumping over the beams.


Why Safety Edges Are Not Safe Enough


Mechanical additions offer a solution that prevents physical access to areas where a moving gate could injure anyone it came into contact with.  Sliding gates that have gaps in them create a shearing effect on anything pushed through the gate (such as an arm) as it opens along a wall or railings. To avoid this with an open boarded gate sliding against railings, a safety edge would have to be added to both sides of every railing. Fitting a narrow mesh screening, prevents physical access to the risk area.


A swing gate moving with a strong wind behind it, hits an obstacle with a much greater force than the same gate in still air. Safety edges will not prevent this extra force impacting the ‘obstacle, and causing more injury or damage. It could also be argued that a gate with safety edges at the bottom, does not stop crushing someone carrying a box (or a pregnant woman!) whose feet and legs have not been contacted by that safety edge.


For an even safer installation, laser detection devices can be fitted that will stop the gate when there is any movement in the potential danger area.


In every gate automation installation, unique circumstances, user requirements and the opportunity to educate users vary significantly. The safe design of any gate must be developed following risk assessment and accommodate usage and user variations.


There is no one-fits-all solution and good practice should be learnt and applied to each unique gate installation.

For advice on gate safety and to buy gate safety devices, contact Linkcare today on 01895232626. Alternatively, have a look at our safety information on the Linkcare.net website.

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