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Hidden dangers of roller shutters - safety advice from DHF

27 October 2015

Maintenance is a vital and legally required factor in ensuring the continued safety of a rolling shutter. However, in many locations, safety-critical elements of the shutter are hidden behind fixed panels and cannot be accessed by service engineers

The warning that the safety of many shutters is seriously compromised has come from the Door & Hardware Federation which represents the UK's leading manufacturers and maintainers of industrial and commercial shutters and doors.

It is vital that an engineer or technician carrying out service and maintenance can reach the shutter's fixings, springs, brakes, drive chains, electrical wiring and other structural parts that make up the head-gear of a shutter. Over the operating life of a shutter these parts are all subject to wear, corrosion and failure. Such failures have been responsible for deaths and injuries and therefore these parts must be accessible to be inspected in a planned maintenance programme.

Workplace safety legislation demands that building owners, managing agents or landlords must ensure that all doors and shutters under their control are safe. In addition, any contractor installing, maintaining or repairing a door or shutter must always leave it in a safe condition if any work is carried out on it.

Said DHF general manager and secretary Michael Skelding: "There are good reasons why a building owner might want to conceal the workings of a roller shutter behind a panel or in the ceiling space - for the sake of aesthetics, for example. However, if an engineer cannot gain access to safety-critical elements of a shutter, then the safety of that shutter cannot be assured.

"We advise architects, owners, shopfitters and shopfront designers to make sure that if moving parts of the shutter are boxed in or concealed in any way, then proper access is made available to an engineer carrying out safety maintenance work. This can be as simple as ensuring inspection hatches or removable panels are incorporated. Under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, there is a specific duty for designers to consider the safe use and maintenance of new buildings."

When an engineer finds he cannot access safety critical parts of the shutter he will inform the owner that the safety of the shutter cannot be established. Repairing or carrying out other work on such a shutter could then be in breach of health and safety legislation. If an accident subsequently occurs due to failure to maintain the shutter, then both the maintainer and the owner could face criminal proceedings.

Added Michael Skelding: "Roller shutters are a familiar sight in a wide variety of industrial and commercial premises and in particular in shopping centres and retail parks. We strongly urge designers, contractors and building owners to be aware of the dangers posed by poorly maintained shutters and to ensure service personnel have access to all mechanical,. structural and electrical parts of rolling shutters."

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