FEATURES — NBC Reports on Dangers of Automatic Gates

© 2003 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Winter 2003
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Page 40

NBC Reports on Dangers of Automatic Gates

Automated vehicular gates fell into the national news spotlight on Oct. 31, 2003.

On that day, the 13 NBC-owned affiliate stations in major U.S. markets broadcast an “Insider Report” by NBC Chief Consumer Correspondent Lea Thompson. The 100-second report was produced in Washington, D.C., by NBC News staff who consulted with DASMA before airing the report.

The report cited the September 2003 death of Junar McDaniels of Detroit, an 11-year-old boy who was killed while reportedly trying to slide through an automated gate at an apartment complex. A resident, unaware of the boy's position, activated the gate, and the boy got caught as the gate opened.

Positive Effects

Rick Sedivy of DoorKing, chairman of the DASMA Gate Operator Committee, says the report may encourage more consumers to replace older gate systems. “It should also demonstrate to installers the importance of installing new gate systems according to the most current safety standards,” he adds.

Hal Stratton, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), was quoted in the report, saying, “Since 1990, we've had about 25,000 injuries from automatic gates.”

“I question this statistic,” says Sedivy. “I believe the NEISS (National Electronic Injury Surveillance System) data for automatic gate injuries needs further review to find out how many injuries are actually related to the gate moving.”

The NEISS data gathers emergency room statistics from 100 selected hospitals in the U.S. The CPSC then uses these statistics to estimate the total number of consumer product-related injuries nationwide.

Industry Progress

NBC's Thompson reports positively of industry efforts that are resulting in comprehensive safety standards and safer gate operators.

UL 325, for example, addresses the manufacture of gate operators that must include inherent entrapment protection and provisions for secondary entrapment protection devices. These secondary protection devices must be designed into the system and installed by the installing dealer.

Another voluntary standard (ASTM F-2200), also developed with DASMA involvement, establishes gate and fence standards for how installers are to automate a gate.

Loose Chain Hazard?

In the NBC report, Thompson says that these industry efforts include removing “loose chains that might entangle someone.”

Bill Hildebrand of OSCO, chairman of DASMA's Operator & Electronics Division, says chains have not been identified as a problem. “I am not aware of any incidents involving a person entangled in a chain.”

The Problem of Older Gates

In the report, NBC's Thompson says, “The industry did develop volunteer safety standards a few years ago.” She adds that the gate that killed Junar McDaniels was one of thousands of gates installed before the standard took effect. She ends the report by saying, “The Consumer Product Safety Commission says there are still too many old gates out there that can entrap and even kill you.”

Sedivy concludes, “The report appropriately draws attention to the importance of safety standards and to our continued progress as an industry. Dealers can cite this NBC report to customers as evidence of the need for bringing older gate systems into compliance with the current safety standards.”