A motorist lost his life when a horizontal car park barrier crashed through the driver’s windscreen, causing fatal head injuries.
A 51 year old father of two had driven to watch his son play football at a sports ground. As he approached the car park entrance, the horizontal section of the barrier, which had been opened earlier but not secured, swung forward directly into the path of the car and through the windscreen.
At the subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation it was discovered that the protruding end of the barrier was bent out of shape and pointing in the direction of the oncoming traffic. Concerns about the barrier had been reported to the Council prior to the incident but “nothing had been done”.
The Council pleading guilty to an offence under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined a total of £160,000, and ordered to pay £40,476 in costs. Since the incident, repairs have been carried out to ensure that the gate now opens into the car park rather than outwards towards the direction of oncoming traffic.
“A significant number of people have been killed or injured…”
A principal HSE inspector said the tragic loss of the father’s life was “a horrific incident that could so easily have been avoided. The barrier should have been secured whilst it was open so that it could not swing into his path in such a way that he was unable to see it as he drove towards it.”
The inspector added that “A significant number of people have been killed or injured in incidents involving horizontal swing barriers in car parks used in retail, leisure and industrial premises. Duty holders should carry out a suitable risk assessment so that potential dangers are identified and suitable precautions are put in place.”
HSE advise duty holders to ensure that barriers can be locked open and shut to suitable fixing posts so they cannot swing open and cause a potentially fatal injury.