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Fri May 29 2020

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Fabricator fined after gate crushes schoolgirl

8 Mar A metal fabricator has been fined nearly £20,000 after an eight-year-old girl was crushed by a steel gate at a south London school.

Picture of the gate courtesy of HSE
Picture of the gate courtesy of HSE

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that the sliding gate fell on the girl as she was leaving   an evening gymnastics club on 17th May 2018. She suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis as well as internal injuries.

The manual sliding gate, which is more than five metres long and 1.7 metres high, was designed and manufactured by Metalart Fabrication Limited. It was installed by Metalart at a school in Streatham in February 2018 after a delivery lorry damaged a previous, two-leaf swing gate.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the mechanism designed to prevent the sliding gate from overrunning and falling over as it was opened (a small stop welded to its guiding rail) was insufficient if the gate was opened robustly.

When the gate was opened at the time of the incident, it disengaged from the rollers holding it up, when its momentum caused it to ‘ride over’ the stop. With nothing to hold it in position, it fell on the girl.

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Metalart made the necessary changes to the gate’s stop mechanism on the morning after the incident and an HSE specialist verified its safety.

Metalart Fabrication Limited, of Oldfields Road, Sutton, Surrey pleaded guilty to breaching Section 6(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £19,327, including full costs of £1,147 and a victim surcharge of £180.

HSE inspector Sarah Whittle said after the hearing: “The failure to fit suitable end-stops meant that the gate was an accident waiting to happen and could have fallen on anyone at any time with life threatening consequences.”

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