Irish case resulting in €8m settlement underpins importance of risk assessment and non-contact safety
March 2022: The recent reports of a woman being awarded €8m who suffered brain damage after being trapped in an automatic gate at her workplace is another reminder of the price to be paid for an unsafe gate.
For the woman concerned, her life has been irrevocably changed. A former marathon runner, she now uses a wheelchair and has limited mobility. The brain injury she sustained has affected her cognitive ability and vision no doubt impacting on her work life.
For the company who employed the woman, they were hit with a €16,000 fine. There has been information circulating around this case which brings into question the reason for the accident. Some of it is misleading.
Gate Safe wishes to set the record straight.
Fact: the gate was unsafe
Fact: the control equipment was accessible from the wrong side of the gate enabling the victim to place her hands through the tubular uprights of the electric gate when it was operating
Fact: We know that either a competent risk assessment was not carried out to identify the risks and put measures in place to mitigate these potential hazardous outcomes – or that the steps recommended to ensure the safety of the gate post the risk assessment were not actioned
Fact: we know that non-contact safety was not employed – either at all or certainly not correctly as if this is the case, the accident would never have occurred
Commenting, Richard Jackson, Gate Safe founder says,
“Discussions of force limitation and compliance with the standards in our view are pointless. This gate – like any other correctly fitted automated gate – should never have made contact with the victim regardless of the levels of force or what the standards dictate as best practice in terms of reducing gaps or accessibility to any parts of the gate.
We know that the Health and Safety Executive has said that installing in accordance with the standards will not necessarily deliver a safe gate. In our opinion, the only way to deliver a safe gate is via a risk assessment approach. We simply don’t know if the gate had been installed using the force testing protocol detailed in the standards whether it would have stopped the accident or reduced the severity of the injury. I for one would not be prepared to put my arm through the bars of a gate to find out! Every gate should be fitted with non-contact safety as a priority. This distressing case should set a prime example of the importance of learning valuable lessons after an accident, Gate Safe implores all gate installers to take the requisite training to understand the risks associated with automated gates to prevent any further tragedies.”
For more information on Gate Safe training visit www.gate-safe.org/training