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Do pedestrians have rights of way around security barriers?

14/02/2019

Are there any rights of way for pedestrians around/alongside security barriers i.e. does sufficient space have to be provided for a safe crossing away from barriers? Lodders’ Real Estate partner, Alastair Frew, explains.

The simple answer to this question is – no, provided that the security barrier is safe for pedestrian access.

A security barrier is typically a gate, made up of a rising arm, or swinging horizontally from a fixed hinge. It is perfectly possible for a security barrier to be safe for vehicles and pedestrians, but they are generally engineered to be suitable only for one of these two purposes.

A security barrier which is designed to prevent vehicles is not ideal for preventing pedestrians from passing. Cars and people are so different in size and mobility, that it is easier to install two gates of different types.

From a security perspective, a simple vehicular gate will not keep pedestrians out.

Health & Safety implications

Much more importantly, a vehicular gate can be very dangerous to pedestrians. A rising barrier can easily fall onto a pedestrian, while a swing gate is a crush hazard for a pedestrian. In each case, the technology employed to trigger an automatic gate mechanism is designed to detect vehicles and typically does not detect pedestrians.

In the Health and Safety Executive’s Health and Safety bulletin dated 26 February 2010, the tragic death of a 9-year-old child was discussed. The child, called Jason Keet, was fatally injured in 2006 when visiting his grandparent’s apartment block; he reached through the gates to press the button designed to allow residents to exit the property. The construction of the gate pillar and hinge was such that the child was crushed as the gate began to open and the gap became smaller. The Court held that the button was too close to the gate, and the gap between the pillar and the gate was too large, allowing small children to attempt this very dangerous manoeuvre. The developers of the apartment block, along with the two companies responsible for the gates and the opening system were all convicted of breaching s3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Code of practice

The code of practice for the Design, Manufacture, Installation and Maintenance of Automated Gates and Traffic Barriers published by the Door and Hardware Federation explains the difficulty in using a single gate for more than one purpose, due to the various mechanisms used for triggering the movement of the gate or barrier. The Code of Practice also described in detail how a gate should be constructed and installed in order to prevent people from reaching through the gate in an attempt to trigger the mechanism. A gate which swings horizontally should have hinges which preserve any gap in between the gate and the pillar so that any person or object which is caught in that gap does not get crushed. Unfortunately, this guidance had not been followed in the tragic case of young Jason Keet.

If an automated pedestrian gate is installed, the industry Code of Practice explains that any automated pedestrian gate must be designed so that, if it fails, it must fail to a safe condition.

In Summary

The long answer to the question above is therefore very similar to the short answer. It is not so much that space must be provided for pedestrians away from vehicular security barriers, but that all security barriers must be safe for their intended purpose, and must be designed so that they are not dangerous to pedestrians. Furthermore, pedestrians must be given a safe means of passing the security barrier, either by the provision of a pedestrian gate, or simply an open space to the side of the vehicular barrier.

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To find out more about this article, please contact Alastair Frew on 01789 206117 or via email.