Steps for choosing the appropriate barrier

December 21, 2023


Insights from the Perimeter Security Suppliers Association (PSSA) and HSE Guidance on barrier products

A recent tragic incident in the UK has brought to the forefront the critical importance of safety in the management of security barriers. In this sobering case, a worker lost his life when his van collided with a partially open security barrier, resulting in the barrier spearing through the vehicle’s windscreen and causing fatal injuries. This tragic event, which has gained significant media attention, and is the latest in a growing list of similar incidents, highlights the potential dangers associated with improperly managed security barriers, whether manual or automated.

The implementation of swing car park barriers in various settings, from retail spaces to leisure complexes, necessitates a rigorous approach to safety and compliance. The Perimeter Security Suppliers Association (PSSA) champions this cause, emphasising the crucial need for correct product selection, professional installation, comprehensive training, and diligent maintenance. These elements are vital in safeguarding against the significant risks these barriers can pose if not managed properly, as evidenced by several incidents across the UK.

The importance of selecting the right barrier

The first step in ensuring safety is selecting the appropriate barrier for the specific environment. Not all swing barriers are suitable for every setting. Factors such as the barrier’s height, visibility, and locking mechanisms must be carefully considered to match the location’s unique requirements. PSSA member companies who supply these barriers play an integral role in advising on the best fit for each scenario, drawing on their extensive knowledge and commitment to quality assurance.

Professional installation and compliance

Installation by qualified professionals is non-negotiable. This ensures that the barriers are not only installed correctly but also comply with all relevant safety standards and regulations. The HSE’s guidance stresses this point, highlighting that improper installation can lead to barriers becoming unsecured or malfunctioning, posing severe risks to public safety.

Training and correct usage

Educating staff and users on the correct operation of swing barriers is a critical component of safety. This includes understanding how to lock and unlock the barriers securely and recognising signs of potential malfunctions. The HSE advises that regular training sessions be conducted to ensure all users are aware of the proper procedures and safety measures.

Regular maintenance: A key safety measure

Ongoing maintenance is crucial in ensuring the longevity and safe operation of swing barriers. The HSE emphasises the importance of periodic checks to identify and rectify any wear and tear or mechanical issues. These checks should be conducted by professionals who can ensure that the barriers continue to meet safety standards.

Learning from past incidents

Several cases have highlighted the consequences of neglecting these safety measures. For instance, the tragic incident involving a man fatally injured by an unsecured swing barrier resulted in significant legal and financial repercussions for the responsible local authority. Another case involved a postal worker who sustained serious injuries due to a poorly maintained barrier at a sports club. These incidents serve as sobering reminders of the potential dangers and underline the importance of adhering to safety guidelines.

Paul Jeffery, PSSA Chairman said: “The importance of specifying the correct product for the intended purpose, its professional installation, correct usage instructions, and regular maintenance cannot be overstated.

“The PSSA members are duty-bound to adhere to strict safety and quality standards, providing an additional layer of assurance. These measures are not just regulatory obligations but moral imperatives to prevent tragic incidents and ensure the safety of all users.

“By learning from past incidents and continuously improving safety practices, we can significantly reduce the risks associated with swing car park barriers. This not only protects individuals but also upholds the reputation of organizations and businesses that implement these security measures.”

Implementing HSE Guidance

The HSE has provided specific guidance on managing the risks associated with swing barriers. This includes:

Conducting comprehensive risk assessments: Identifying potential hazards associated with the barriers and implementing measures to mitigate these risks.

Securing the barriers: Ensuring that they are locked in position, whether open or closed, to prevent accidental movement.

Enhancing visibility: Marking the barriers with high-visibility colours and installing adequate lighting to ensure they are easily seen by drivers and pedestrians.

Regular inspections: Conducting frequent checks to ensure the barriers remain in good condition and function safely.

The role of PSSA members

Members of the PSSA are committed to upholding the highest standards of safety and quality in the installation and maintenance of vehicle barriers. They are well-versed in the latest HSE guidelines and legislative requirements, ensuring that their practices not only meet but often exceed the minimum safety criteria.

Mark Dachtler, Managing Director of PSSA member Avon Barrier, said: “Avon Barrier withdrew swing barriers from its range many years ago due to concerns over the risks associated with operators of the manually controlled barriers failing to secure them in the open or closed positions and thereby creating exactly this risk.”


The effective management of swing car park barriers is a multifaceted endeavour that requires careful consideration of product selection, professional installation, ongoing maintenance, and user training. The PSSA’s role in promoting these practices, alongside adherence to HSE guidance, is invaluable in mitigating the risks associated with these barriers. By learning from past incidents and continually striving for improvement, we can significantly enhance the safety of these common yet potentially hazardous installations.

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