CPSC Targets Gate Systems

© 2001 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Winter 2001
Author: Joe Hetzel and Tom Wadsworth
Pages 32-33

CPSC Targets Gate Systems
Sedivy: "It's Very Good News"

On October 23, 2001, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a national alert, urging consumers to replace older automatic vehicular security gate systems. The alert included a nationally distributed press release and a video news release that were carried by major news organizations from coast to coast.

In the alert, CPSC Chairwoman Ann Brown said, "If your apartment or condominium complex has an older gate, contact a manager or your homeowners' association and have it replaced with a safer automatic gate that meets the new standard. It could save a life."

The CPSC praised tougher safety provisions (incorporated into UL 325) that are intended to prevent children from becoming entrapped in automatic security gates. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) adopted the new standard in March 2000, working with the Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA), the CPSC, and other groups.

For the implications of this alert on our industry, Joe Hetzel, DASMA technical director, interviewed Rick Sedivy of DoorKing, the chairman of DASMA’s Operator & Electronics Division and chairman of the Division’s Gate Operator Committee.

JH: Rick, some might see the CPSC press release and video as bad news for the industry. How do you see it?

RS: I think it's very good news. Basically, you have our government telling people to replace older gate systems with newer systems that meet the 2000 safety standard. At DASMA, we've been stressing the safety issue for several years through seminars, press releases, magazine articles, and a safety brochure. Now, the CPSC has taken our efforts a step further by alerting the public to an important safety issue with regard to automated gates.

JH: How does this help the industry?

RS: Armed with the CPSC's alert, installers have a powerful tool to convince managers and homeowners to replace, rather than repair, older outdated systems that cannot meet the current standards. With the widespread publicity given the release, installers should increasingly find a public that is aware of the dangers of non-compliant gate systems. The public should be more willing to update and replace older products or purchase only compliant systems for new installations.

Whenever we can remove outdated systems and replace them with newer safer systems is a plus for this industry. In my opinion, Chairwoman Ann Brown calling for the replacement of older systems is a very powerful statement that can only help our industry. Other operator manufacturers seem generally pleased by the CPSC alert, particularly the strong statement by Chairwoman Ann Brown.

JH: Are installing dealers required to follow the gate operator provisions of the UL 325 standard?

RS: Gate operator provisions in UL 325 are voluntary and do not directly apply to installers. But the standard requires that manufacturers place certain instructions in their installation manuals, and installers need to install the product according to the instructions. If they don't, they open themselves up to litigation if an accident occurs. The provisions are voluntary in every state except Nevada, where compliance is mandatory.

JH: If the standard is voluntary, are installers following the new instructions?

RS: I fear that many installers are not following the new instructions. Unfortunately, I think it is going to take the inclusion of the standard into the building codes before we see any great increase in compliance. This is unfortunate, because if an installing dealer sells on price as being more important than safety, they may not realize the liability involved. Ignoring the provisions of the standard will not make the standard go away. The CPSC is aware of non-compliance, and if it continues, formal governmental action is likely.

JH: How can automated vehicular gate requirements become a part of building codes?

RS: The CPSC is spearheading an effort to have the provisions of the UL 325 standard included in building codes. This process is now moving forward. If the provisions are included in building codes, inspectors will be looking for compliance, and it will no longer be voluntary.