LTB – Serious Safety Warning To All CWU Member Drivers

Dear Colleagues,


Serious Injuries Accident – Keighley:

On the 9th August this year a Keighley Delivery Office Postman and CWU member received serious injuries when his van collided with a ‘Swing Arm Barrier Gate’ which penetrated the Windscreen of his Royal Mail Vauxhall Combo Delivery Van and struck him in the face and head causing very serious injuries as he was leaving a sports centre premises after completing his deliveries to the premises. The member was fortunate to survive the accident and was hospitalised, undergoing major surgery and remains off work recovering and being treated for his injuries.


The CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department have held meetings and exchanged correspondence with both Bradford Council and the HSE to press for the owners of the premises to be prosecuted for Health and Safety Offences.


Fatal Accident – Somerset

On June 24th 2011 a Somerset Delivery Office Postman and CWU member was killed in a similar crash into a swing arm barrier Gate, in an accident at a farm near Henstridge, in rural South Somerset. The member was fatally injured when his Royal Mail Ford Transit Connect delivery van crashed into a metal gate on his rural round. The 48 years old member died from chest injuries after the Gate’s top metal bar punctured his Van’s windscreen and then went through his chest, causing a fatal wound. The member was making a routine postal delivery to the premises on a round he had done regularly for six years. The unfortunate member was pronounced dead at the scene. There was no prosecution of the farm owners.


Fatal Accident Lincoln – North Lincolnshire Council Fined.

In a similar case, North Lincolnshire Council were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and were fined after a man died when his car drove into an unsecured swing arm barrier gate to a car park at a sports ground in August 2012. At Hull Crown Court North Lincolnshire Council was fined a total of £160,000, plus £40,476 costs after pleading guilty to an offence under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.


HSE Warning and Advice.

The HSE have stated that a significant number of people have been killed or injured in incidents involving horizontal swing arm barrier gates 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. These include making sure such barriers can be locked open and shut to suitable fixing posts preferably with a padlock so they cannot swing open and present an impalement risk. In summary the HSE advice is:-


A barrier typically comprises of a horizontal bar or beam hinged at a vertical pillar. The bar is manually moved to open or close off access to an opening in a car park exit/entrance.


Accidents have occurred when barriers have been inadequately secured so that they have partially opened and presented a least visible end on profile of the protruding barrier which has impaled an oncoming vehicle. The end profile of the barrier may not be clearly visible to an oncoming driver. Other incidents have occurred as a barrier has swung into the path of an oncoming vehicle.


Unsecured barriers can swing open due to the wind, gravity, vibration or as a result of vandalism.


HSE has decided to produce this information to remind users of these swing arm barrier gates of their legal health and safety duties in relation to the safe use of such barriers.


Duty holders include persons in charge of the entrances to industrial estates, retail premises, leisure premises, sporting complexes, parks, farms etc. In short any premise with a car park entrance or exit to which members of the public and workers have vehicular access, may utilise such barriers.


Vertically opening or lifting barriers can also present safety risks if they are not correctly controlled.


Duty holders are reminded of their responsibilities in relation to barriers. They include:-


  • Carrying out a suitable risk assessment so that potential dangers are identified and precautions are put in place to ensure they are removed or controlled.
  • Reviewing existing risk assessments where horizontal swing barriers are in use to determine whether elimination of the risk is possible. Horizontal swing barriers rely on human intervention to ensure they are locked open or locked shut, they are also susceptible to vandalism which can leave them in an unsafe position. Vertical lifting gates are a lower risk alternative, as is the provision of lower height swing barriers so that any collision will result in damage to the vehicle without causing any part of the barrier to enter the vehicle with possible fatal consequences.
  • Where horizontal barriers are used, making sure the barriers are adequately secured at all times whether open or shut (a padlock will suffice).
  • Making sure the barriers are made visible by painting or marking with alternate red and white bands of adequate width to be clearly visible, so that persons do not inadvertently drive into them (additional local lighting may be required).
  • Carrying out regular inspections to ensure that the methods of securing and visibility aspects have not deteriorated.
  • Ensuring barriers are maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Liaising with suppliers if your risk assessment reveals that securing and visibility requirements are inadequate.


Royal Mail Safety (SHE) Alert.

Royal Mail have issued a Safety Alert for the Attention of All Drivers on unsecured swing arm barriers gates as it is suspected that the unsecured gates swung into the paths of the Royal Mail Vans involved in the above accidents. The Alert advised as follows:-

Key Messages

Following a serious incident, a continued risk with regard to unsecured barriers and gates has been identified. These gates have the potential to move, particularly in windy weather or from the vibration of passing vehicles.

  1. When entering premises where a manual swing barrier/gate is in place, observe its position and check it is secured.
  2. Slow down when approaching the barrier and stop if it appears to be unsecured.
  3. Identify and report to your manager any unsecured gate hazards that present a risk due to either their location, design or a previous near miss incident.

Key Actions

  1. All employees to identify and report to line manager any unsecured barrier/gate hazards that present a risk due to either their location, design or a previous near miss incident.
  2. Managers to ensure that staff are briefed and signatures obtained, and when completed confirm this to the SHE team using the Safety Alert Reference GP/SA/2016/002- Swing Gate.
  3. Managers to ensure that all hazards are entered on WRAP, Walk Logs are updated accordingly and controls are agreed with staff and customers to eliminate the hazard or reduce the risk of injury.
  4. Display the Safety Alert on the Office SHE Notice Board.


Would all CWU Branches and Safety Reps urgently bring the Royal Mail SHE Alert and HSE Advice to Members who are Drivers!


There is evidence to suggest that the Royal Mail Safety Alert has not been effectively briefed out and brought to the attention of our members and hasn’t been displayed on Notice Boards. Would Safety Reps please investigate this and check that the RM Instructions are implemented.


Please ensure Driver Members are aware of the Safety Precautions they should take (Points 1 – 3 Key Messages in the Royal Mail Safety Alert above) and ensure that any premises with unsecure barriers are reported and that WRAP and Walk Logs are updated (Points 1-3 Key Actions in the Royal Mail Safety Alert above).


The owners and operators of certain premises with Swing Arm Barrier Gates are failing to lock back these gates and are failing in their general duties under the Health and Safety At Work Act in relation to the safe use of the swing arm barrier gates to their premises, as set out in the HSE guidance and this poses a serious danger to our members who visit such premises on a regular basis. These property managers and owners should be prosecuted and where incidents occur, that’s what the CWU will press the enforcing authorities to do, as in this case.


As the Accident Scene and Accident Investigation Photographs demonstrate, Swing Arm Barrier Gates can be difficult to see when approaching them head-on and when not secured back especially in bad weather or poor light. The HSE advise that the end profile of the swing-arm barrier may not be clearly visible to an oncoming driver!


I would like to thank CWU Area Health and Safety Representative Mick Gledhill (Bradford & Dist Amal) for his thorough Accident Investigation and provision of photographs.



  • Royal Mail Safety (SHE) Alert (GP SA 2016 00).
  • Keighley Accident Scene photographs (Keighley-Serious Injuries Swing-Bar Barrier Gate Collision Accident-9thAug.16)
  • Somerset Postman’s Fatal Crash into Gate etc Media/Press
  • HSE Advice on Horizontal Swing-Arm Car Park Barrier Gates.
  • Council Fined After Man Killed By Swing Barrier Gate – Report on Nth Lincolnshire Council Prosecution and £200,000 Fine.
  • CWU ASR Mick Gledhill’s 2015 Request to RM For Attention to Swing-Arm Barrier Gates..
  • Examples of Typical Swing-Arm Barrier Gates (Images)


Yours sincerely


Dave Joyce