By Alex Wright, Total Security Warehouse, Brown Deer, WI
No doubt, if your business installs or services gate operators, recent changes in the safety standards that govern automatic gates are affecting every aspect of your business. The biggest change that took effect this year to the UL 325 Safety Standards now requires monitored entrapment protection devices be installed, and operational, in order for the gate operator to run. This has left installers questioning which products are compatible with what, how is this going to affect their ongoing installation and quote practices, how to deal with existing sites that don’t meet current standards, and even worse, questioning the written standards themselves, which can be perplexing.
Not meeting UL 325, and ASTM F2200 (which sets safety standards for the construction of automated vehicular gates) Safety Standards can cause serious injury, or death. This includes your employees who are tasked to install and service the gate, the end-users of the gate coming and going every day, and most importantly, people who may not comprehend the dangers associated with an automated gate that simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time (i.e. children).
As the hired professional, it is the responsibility of the distributor and dealer to ensure that each and every installation is configured to protect all areas of potential entrapment. In some cases, a specific installation may require more entrapment protection means than the minimum required by code. Making sure instructions are given to the end-user on all operational functions of the gate operator, how to reset the gate operator, how to turn off/on power, and how to manually operate the gate, all fall on the shoulders of the dealer before they leave the job site.
An incompetent and irresponsible business may make excuses to why they can’t, or won’t, follow safety standards. Excuses like; “I’ll lose jobs because my competitors don’t include these safety devices in their bids”, “it’s not a law”, or “I had the customer sign a waiver stating the gate was unsafe” are just that – excuses – and are indefensible in the court of law. A qualified and proactive company would accept these safety standards as a challenge, that with hard work and determination, will set them apart from their competition. Explaining to an end-user why your costs are higher than your competitors because you have the well-being of their family, and/or co-workers in mind, may not get you the job, but guarantees you their respect. An installer who follows a safety checklist that can be discussed in detail with the end-user upon completion opens up great dialogue, specifically, dialogue that doesn’t sound like you are just trying to sell them more stuff. Additionally, consider reaching out to existing customers whom you have not spoken to recently, who may have a gate that is not up to current safety standards. This is a great opportunity to discuss the dangers of their automated gate and why it is so important to have their automatic gate brought up to current standards.
Keys to the success:
- Do your homework – There is a lot of information readily available covering gate safety standards; read it, study it, discuss it, teach it, preach it.
- Make a plan – write down how your company will handle specific situations, like how to talk to end users about gate safety, or how to handle an existing site that is not up to standards.
- Checklists – create a safety checklist for new & existing sites that thoroughly inspects each gate component for compliance.
- Take photos – after you complete your safe and compliant automatic gate, snap photos, and keep in the specific job file. These can also be used to showcase your quality work to prospective clients.
Gate safety information is readily available in the installation manual that comes with your gate operator. Additional information can be found on the following websites.