BGIA - Archive 2004: Protective measures for making revolving doors safer are unproblematic


Accidents with automatic revolving doors can be prevented in future. The BG Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BIA) has presented a comprehensive set of measures for providing better safety in automated revolving doors. The measures were devised in conjunction with manufacturers and operators of such doors.

BIA's efforts in this project were supported by the BG special committee on architectural devices, which co-operated closely with the North-Rhine Westphalia state agency for occupational safety (LAFA). The initiative was launched following the accidental death of a small child who was tragically caught in a revolving door at the Cologne-Bonn airport and later died as a result of the sustained injuries.

The set of safety measures is the result of a practice-based study on several types of revolving doors conducted over several months: The occupational safety researchers determined the hazards present in various branches of industry and commerce and tested the effectiveness of the protective equipment used. "The results were rather disturbing", said Dr. Michael Schaefer, the responsible department supervisor at BIA. "Not one of the doors we studied was safe enough to meet the standards of the European directive on machinery. To the contrary, people in need of special protection - such as children, the elderly and individuals with disabilities - were faced with an acute risk of injury. We thus had to recommend that 12 of 14 door types should be immediately shut down."

Based on the hazards analysis, BIA drafted a list of specific protective measures - from simple economical technical solutions, such as installing weaker motors that permit the doors to revolve at only slow speeds or very modern protective devices that could detect people nearing the door and automatically brake the door movement when the proximity is too short. The experts estimated the average costs arising from making a new revolving door safer during manufacture to conform to these guidelines at around 2000 euros. "If we consider that one of these revolving doors costs approximately 70,000 euros when new, this estimated price wouldn't seem very substantial", Schaefer explained. "Yet the costs of refitting existing doors with this equipment would certainly be much higher." But considering that these measures could save lives, the money in question would be comparatively insignificant.

As an added practical aid, the BIA experts created an easy-to-use checklist for revolving door owners and operators to test the safety of their doors on a regular basis. Testing instruments were also designed to determine whether the forces arising in such a door are too high. By the middle of 2005, experts also plan to revise the insufficient German introductory safety standard for automatic doors (DIN V 18650) and start work on a new European standard. As early as January, BIA will present a list of principles for testing revolving doors that many testing bodies in Germany hope to put into use.

As Schaefer notes, "It is now up to the door manufacturers and operators to implement the protective measures in practice. We are quite confident that they will do so because the safety problem is so serious and because the solution is now on hand."