Death of woman 'riding' industrial door is a warning

The Door & Hardware Federation is hammering home the significance of appropriate training following the death of a woman killed in an industrial door incident.

The Incident took place in August 2016 and has been described by Health & Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Graeme Warden as ‘ that could have been avoided. It resulted in Cambridgeshire-based electrical company BS Graves (Electrical) Ltd being fined £25,000 and ordered to pay costs amounting to £6,500.

An inquest held in Huntingdon last year, heard that 40-year-old social worker Heidi Chalkley’s hands became trapped in the shutter door mechanism as it opened. She ahd been 'riding' up on the door as it opened. She suffered multiple fractures to her ribs, spine, arms and jawbone and died at the scene. The inquest's verdict was death by misadventure. The inquest also found that the door was not as safe as it should have been.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive found that sensors at the top of the door, which should have stopped it, were incorrectly wired and did not function properly as the door opened. It also found that BS Graves (Electrical) Ltd had carried out work on the roller shutter door at Ruth Bagnall Court since 2012, and despite inspecting the door a month prior to the accident, had failed to check and test the operation of the safety systems on the door and identify the fault. The company, based in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, pleaded guilty at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. 

“This type of incident has been well documented in the past, with similar accidents involving children across Europe, initiating the standard EN 12453 for this type of door to include the need for protection to prevent an incident of this nature,” explains DHF’s Senior Training & Compliance Officer, Nick Perkins. “EN 12453 has, since 2000, required that doors with the ability to lift persons be protected by one of four safety strategies: 

i. the door be operated in hold-to-run by a trained user with full sight of the door, or
ii. the door be torque limited such that it cannot lift a person, or
iii. high level fail-safe beams be provided to detect a person being lifted during opening, or 
iv. the door be protected by light curtains that prevent opening if a person is present on the door. 

In the case of Heidi Chalkley, the high-level beams were not functional, despite being installed.”

Following the inquest, Mr Warden highlighted a lack of appropriate training of employees at BS Graves. “We continue to stress the vital importance of the correct level of training for all those with both legal and moral responsibility for the installation, maintenance, repair and dismantling of potentially dangerous equipment, such as industrial doors,” says DHF’s CEO, Bob Perry.

“Very tragically, this case has resulted in a fatality that could so easily have been avoided. It is absolutely imperative that those working on doors such as this, are equipped with specialist knowledge of applicable standards and legislation, together with the technical expertise to identify the hazard, assess and test the presence and function of acceptable protection systems. As this tragedy illustrates quite clearly, door system maintenance cannot be achieved by visual inspection alone or by those with insufficient training, experience or test equipment.”

DHF has published codes of practice for the industrial door, automated gate and barrier industry and provides standards and legislation training for all. “We advise those with ownership and management responsibilities to ensure that their maintenance contractors have the professional training, qualification, and equipment required, and that managers, supervisors and operatives are suitably trained in the craft, legislation & standards,” concludes Bob.

There is more information about technical specificationson the DHF website.