Friday, 30 April 2010


Without getting involved in the legalities of any particular case involving death or injury caused by automatic gate systems, I am keen to highlight the bewildering array of conflicting regulations and lack of policing.
As an installer who regularly works on high profile public sector contracts, I am worried about prosecutions bringing my industry into disrepute and disarray.
It is worth attempting to explain the current, confused regulations. BS EN 13241 is the safety standard for installation, testing and ongoing compliance of automatic gate systems and the standard is now a legal requirement for all gate systems. The obstacle detection system must be tested and accredited to another standard, BS EN 1760-2, which governs quality, durability and failure monitoring to ensure the gate will not function unless the safety system is in good working order. Confusingly, several other standards apply, BS EN 12978, BS EN 12453 and BS EN 445 (test), which are in force.
In my view, these regulations are incomprehensible, unworkable and unenforceable. Moreover, the very people who are supposed to enforce them seem unaquainted with any of them.
It is a fact that no systems installed in the UK before 2008 comply with the existing regulations. More seriously, the vast majority of systems installed since then do not comply because the regulations are largely ignored by installers, many of whom are semi-skilled and have no training. Indeed, potentially lethal automatic gate systems are available on the internet that can be installed by anyone with the ready cash - no questions asked.
If the requirements of BS EN 13241 were to be strictly observed, several hundreds of thousands of existing installations would have to be dumped and replaced.
Also, let us not forget that all systems have to be designed in conjunction with a formal assessment to identify and avoid traps, guard shear points and to protect against impact etc.
In some parts of Europe, if repairs are required on an exixting automatic gate that does not comply, then the entire system must be made compliant. Would Atlas be at fault if we carried out a repair without insisting that the completed system is brought into compliance?
Well, apparently not, but that is only the opinion of the Trading Standards Officer for one of the areas in which we operate.
Joe Baker
Managing Director Atlas Group

Installations should comply with:
BS EN 12978:2003+A1:2009
BS EN 13241-1:2003
BS EN 1760 -2:2001+A1:2009
BS EN 12453:2001

Thursday, 8 April 2010


The banks are rushing to phase out cards that also offer a cheque guarantee, usually £100 or £250. This will hit many small businesses who rely on the cards to ensure they will be paid.
What are the options?
1. Insist on payment in cash - an easy way to lose business.
2. Accept a cheque and hope that it doesn't bounce.
3. Paying whatever the banks demand for a chip and pin machine.
The problem with option 3 is that, in the current economic climate, the cost for a small business could easily put them on the brink of bankruptcy.
lloyds for example charges up to £30 per month + VAT to rent a card reader. Add to this 3 percent for credit transactions and 50p per item for debit cards - plus £150 to £200 set up charge. Mobile readers can cost even more.
It could easily cost a small business £800 a year which might be the difference between surviving or going under.
These costs compare to 60p to £1 per cheque with no other overheads.
According to the Payments Council research among businesses accepting guaranteed cheques showed that they made up only 10 percent of all the payments they received.
However, this represents a significat number of firms relying on the guarantee. Let us know what you think.