Advice on horizontal swing car park barriers

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is aware of accidents including fatalities as a result of incidents involving horizontal swing barriers which are found in car parks used in retail and many other premises.

A barrier typically comprises of a horizontal bar or beam hinged at a vertical pillar. The bar is manually moved to open or close off access to an opening in a car park exit/entrance.

Accidents have occurred when barriers have been inadequately secured so that they have partially opened and presented a least visible end on profile of protruding barrier which has impaled an oncoming vehicle. The end profile of the barrier may not be clearly visible to an oncoming driver. Other incidents have occurred as a barrier has swung into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Unsecured barriers can swing open due to the wind, gravity or as a result of vandalism.

Following discussions with Local Authority Partners, HSE has decided to produce this information to remind users of their duties in relation to the safe use of such barriers.

Duty holders include persons in charge of the entrances to industrial estates, retail premises, leisure premises, sporting complexes, parks, farms etc. In short any premise with a car park entrance or exit to which members of the public and workers have vehicular access, may utilise such barriers.

Vertically opening or lifting barriers can also present safety risks if they are not correctly controlled.

Duty holders are reminded of their responsibilities in relation to barriers. They include:

  • Carrying out a suitable risk assessment so that potential dangers are identified and precautions are put in place to ensure they are removed or controlled.
  • Reviewing existing risk assessments where horizontal swing barriers are in use to determine whether elimination of the risk is possible. Horizontal swing barriers rely on human intervention to ensure they are locked open or locked shut, they are also susceptible to vandalism which can leave them in an unsafe position. Vertical lifting gates are a lower risk alternative, as is the provision of lower height swing barriers so that any collision will result in damage to the vehicle without causing any part of the barrier to enter the vehicle with possible fatal consequences.
  • Where horizontal barriers are used, making sure the barriers are adequately secured at all times whether open or shut (a padlock will suffice).
  • Making sure the barriers are made visible by painting or marking with alternate red and white bands of adequate width to be clearly visible, so that persons do not inadvertently drive into them (additional local lighting may be required).
  • Carrying out regular inspections to ensure that the methods of securing and visibility aspects have not deteriorated.
  • Ensuring barriers are maintained in accordance with manufacturers instructions.
  • Liaising with suppliers if your risk assessment reveals that securing and visibility requirements are inadequate.

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