Schoolgirl, 8, crushed by manual sliding gate

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted a Surrey firm after a child sustained multiple fractures to her pelvis and internal injuries when a 5m-long gate fell on her.

The eight-year-old was leaving an evening gymnastics class at the 1700-pupil school in Streatham, south London, when the manual sliding gate became disengaged from its rollers and crushed her.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that the steel gate was designed, manufactured and installed by Surrey-based Metalart Fabrication. The 1.7 metre-high gate was installed in February 2018 after a paper delivery lorry damaged a previous, two-leaf swing gate.

HSE investigator Sarah Whittle said the mechanism in place to prevent the sliding gate from overrunning and falling over as it was opened (a small stop welded to its guiding rail) was ‘an accident waiting to happen’.

At the time of the May 2018 incident, the gate was opened ‘robustly’, and its momentum caused it to ‘ride over’ the stop. With nothing to hold it in position, it fell on the girl.

Metalart Fabrication admitted breaching section 6(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, which puts a duty of any person who designs, manufactures, imports or supplies any article for use at work or any article of fairground equipment to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the article is so designed and constructed that it will be safe and without risks to health at all times when it is being set, used, cleaned or maintained by a person at work.

The company was fined £19,327, including full costs of £1,147 and a victim surcharge of £180.

‘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,’ said Whittle.

According to the HSE, the company made changes to the gate’s stop mechanism on the morning after the incident and a specialist from the regulator verified its safety.