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Automatic Sliding Gates: Defective and Dangerous

Automatic Sliding Gates: Defective and Dangerous

Many homes, apartments and/or homeowner associations use automatic sliding gates for security reasons. What most people don't realize is that automatic sliding gates are very, very dangerous to children and adults. Children and adults can be severely injured or killed if they become entrapped in the gates as they are automatically opened or closed. The injuries include cuts, broken bones, brain injuries and amputations. Many older gates do not have sensing devices or reversing mechanisms to prevent these entrapments.

Some think that these tragedies only occur to children or foolish people. That is not the case. Many responsible adults have been injured or killed due to defective sliding gates. Take Chicago Judge Joan Corboy. Judge Corboy was tragically killed by a sliding gate with a defective Stanley operator. The Stanley gate operator had no safety devices and/or reversing devices. Judge Corboy was killed in the same way many folks are with unsafe automatic sliding gates. She tried to reach through the gate in order to activate the button to open the gate. The automatic gate opened suddenly and entrapped her on the gate, killing her.

Gate entrapment injuries often occur to children. We have received internal Stanley documents which indicate that Stanley Works has notice of dozens and dozens of consumers that have become entrapped in Stanley sliding gate operators. Stanley, like the rest of the sliding gate manufacturers, had safety devices available since the 1960's. However, it has only been in very recent years that gate operator manufacturers have informed consumers of gate operator hazards and have placed internal and external anti-entrapment devices on sliding gate operators.

CPSC Safety Alert: Defective Sliding Gates

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued target="_blank" title="Sliding Gate UL 325 safety alert">safety alerts over defective automatic sliding gates. From 1990 to 2000, CPSC has estimated that nearly 25,000 people were involved in automatic gate-related injuries, including 9,000 children under 15 years old. Each year over 2,000 people, including 800 children, are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries to the head, neck, arm, or hand due to automatic sliding gate defects.

CPSC worked with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to develop tougher safety standards that require automatic gates to have at least two mechanisms to prevent entrapment. These UL 325 provisions are similar to the standards in effect for automatic garage doors. The UL 325 standard, which UL adopted in March 2000, requires an internal sensing device that will reverse the gate if it encounters an obstruction when opening or closing; and a secondary external sensing mechanism, such as an electric eye or an edge sensor that will reverse the gate if an obstruction is detected.

Additional safety measures related to gate installation include:

* Do not use vertical posts gates. Eliminate all gate post gaps over 2.25 inches.
* Make sure gates use a mesh pattern.
* Installation of controls away from the gate so users can't come into contact with the gate while operating the controls.
* Installation of controls where the user has full view of the gate operation.
* Elimination of pinch points.
* Make sure gate operators have both internal and external anti-entrapment devices
* Posting of warning signs on each side of the gate.

The problem with automatic sliding gate is this: there are still hundreds of thousands defective and dangerous automatic sliding gates in the United States. These gates that don't have entrapment safety devices are tragedies waiting to happen. "If your apartment or condominium complex has an older gate, contact a manager or your homeowners' association and have it replaced with a safer automatic gate that meets the new standard. It could save a life," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown.


William Turley
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