Entrapment is a derivative of the verb entrap, which means to be caught in a trap. Vehicular gate systems have areas where people can possibly be trapped and injured by a gate moving to either an open or a closed position. These are called entrapment areas. For example, see the image above courtesy of HySecurity which shows six potential entrapment areas potentially needing protection in just a single swing gate installation.
An entrapment area may be for example where a gate opens toward a fixed object like a wall or a fence. Another example can be where the two edges of a swing gate meet when closing. Both the open as well as the closed position must be considered.
The protection devices used for the entrapment zones must be inspected regularly to enure they are in proper working order to keep people safe and avoid possible liability. Note: You should consult with your legal counsel regarding liability issues surrounding your vehicle gate system(s).
Underwriter’s laboratory (U.L.), a leading nationally recognized testing agency, has a specific set of rules covering vehicular (and other opening and closing) gate systems. That code is UL-325 which covers gate operators which operate at up to 600 volts. The code addresses fire and electrical safety, public safety as well as methods of testing that safety and was updated in 2016.
I will not attempt to define or apply the code here. I will rather I will just explain some of its particulars to show how encompassing and important this issue is. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Our advice is to once again consult with your attorney regarding potential liability.
Gate Operator Classifications
There are four classes of gate operators:
- Residential (single home or up to four homes or garage or parking areas)
- Commercial or General Access (five or more homes or general public access)
- Industrial or Limited Access (not accessible to general public – factory, loading dock area, etc.)
- Restricted Access (secured guarded locations)
Each classification has its own with separate standards depending on whether they are:
- Horizontal Slide, Vertical Lift or Vertical Pivot Gates
- Swing Gates or Vertical Barriers
Since 2000 the code has required both a primary device as well as a secondary (backup) device for each category and each entrapment area. Some examples of devices include: Photo-electric devices, edge sensors or contacts, pressure devices, adjustable clutch devices and for some categories an audio device. Note: The same type of device can not be used for both primary and secondary protection.
UL standards also call for monthly testing of the gate operators and proper maintenance following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
We strongly recommend you leave regular inspection and testing to qualified professionals such as ourselves at ECI. To learn more about ECI programs, please visit our Service and Preventative Maintenance page. Or for details click on our current late fall, early Winter Gate System Preventative Maintenance program. Or you can click below for direct contact information.
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