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There have been a number of accidents in MKC schools where pupils have
had their fingers trapped in doors. Corporate Health and Safety requires
schools to assess the risks of such finger traps and if the risk is significant to
take appropriate action such as installing proprietary protective strips to the
hinge edge of doors. This article indicates where finger-guarding devices are
required. It also provides more detailed guidance on assessing the risks and
the control of finger trapping risks.

Summary of Action Required

Headteachers should ensure on completion of a risk assessment that finger-
guarding devices are fitted to classroom doors; entrances to toilets and toilet
cubicle doors used by nursery or Key Stage 1 pupils (unless the trapping
hazard has been eliminated by the design).

Assessments should also be made of the risks of entrapment from other
doors with reference to the guidance.

This will mainly relate to nursery schools, primary schools and special
schools. However secondary schools and Post 16 establishments should
assess the risks in areas where young children may occasionally be present
(e.g. reception areas).

Risk Assessment – Required and Recommended Actions

Analysis of previous accidents shows that while all doors in schools are
potentially a risk, classroom doors, toilet entrance doors and toilet cubicle
doors represent the highest risk of finger trapping accidents.

Past injuries have included severed fingers as well as fractured crushed or
bruised fingers or fingertips. Accidents have mainly involved nursery or Key
Stage 1 pupils.

Due to the severity of these injuries and the availability and relatively low cost
of finger guarding devices, it is a requirement that guards are fitted in the first
instance to classroom doors, entrances to toilets and toilet cubicle doors used
by nursery or Key Stage 1 pupils (unless the trapping hazard has been
eliminated by the design).

In addition an assessment should be made of the risk of entrapment from
other doors. Particular attention should be paid to the following:

      Doors next to areas where pupils congregate;
      Doors which pupils queue beside for lunch or other reasons;
      Doors near entrances;
      Doors which are susceptible to strong winds;
      Doors which have created problems in the past (check accident
      Heavy doors (with or without dampening mechanisms);
      Areas where pupils are unsupervised.

If schools have such doors, the following measures should be considered:

      Try to reduce or remove the need for pupils to gather near the doors –
       is there a notice board or some other attraction adjacent to the door?
      Can pupils queue in a different area or can any doors nearby be
      Give regular briefings to pupils on dangers of finger trapping – schools
       which have never experienced finger-trapping accidents tend to be
       those where pupils behaviour is shaped at an early stage and
       consistently reinforced.
      Where the above is not practicable, finger-guarding devices should be

Schools must record their risk assessment of finger trapping. This could be in
general risk assessment form in each of the Codes of Practice but it is
recommended that a separate assessment is recorded. A suggested form for
the assessment is attached to this Bulletin, but establishments are free to use
a format of their own design if they prefer.

New/Refurbished Classrooms and Toilets

In all new classrooms or major classroom refurbishments, toilet entrance
doors and toilet cubicle doors in primary phase schools should normally have
the risk of finger trapping designed out at the planning stage. Where this is
not possible they must be fitted with finger guarding devices.

Schools must instruct their chosen contractor to include these standards in
the brief for the project.

Product Information

Finger guarding devices are available from the following companies:-

Access Control & Maintenance Engineering Ltd
Manufacturers of hinge protector - £29.39 incl. VAT (P&P extra)
Woodside Industrial Park, Works Road, Letchworth, Hertfordshire, SG6 1LA
Tel: 01462 480522
Boewood Prevention Ltd
Manufacturers of ‘Fingagard’ - £12.99 incl. VAT and P&P
P. O. Box 44, Newtown, Powys SY16 1WD
Tel: 01686 622228; Fax: 01686 622451

Cooke Brothers Ltd
Manufacturers of ‘Phoenix Digitsafe’ - £23.95
Northgate, Aldridge, Walsall, West Midlands WS9 8TL
Tel: 01922 74000; Fax: 01922 740022

Fingersafe GB
Manufacturers of ‘Fingersafe’ - £29.38 incl. VAT
3-5 Southbourne Grove, Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex SS0 9UW
Tel: 01702 479474; Fax: 01702 474397

Fingershield (Safety UK)
Manufacturers of ‘Fingershield’ – £23.44 incl. VAT
The Old School House, Lind Street, Manchester M40 7ES
Tel: 0161 272 5500; Fax 0161 272 7000

These details are provided for information and do not constitute an
endorsement of any particular product or company. VAT paid by schools can
be reclaimed.

Although some companies can arrange for their products to be fitted at extra
cost, all manufacturers state that their devices can be fitted by persons with
minimal DIY ability.

In order to reduce costs it may be advantageous to combine with other
schools to create a bulk order and obtain a significant discount.

The devices are sold as door length strips, usually just under 2 meters (6ft
6ins) in length. As only the lower part of a door hinge area poses a
foreseeable danger to children, there is an argument that one strip could be
cut in half and used to protect 2 doors. Except for locations such as nurseries
where young children are likely to touch a door at or near floor level, it might
be appropriate to start the bottom of the strip at about 25 cms (10 inches)
from the floor. However, half-length strips may not look as neat as a full
height device and may be more vulnerable to damage. If schools opt to use
half length devices, a risk assessment should be carried out in relation to
locations of the doors and users, including a check that no child can reach the
top of any half-length installation.

Checks after Installation

For both new and existing devices in schools there should be a system of
regular brief visual inspection to check for damage or deterioration as the
means of fixing so that appropriate remedial action can be taken. In addition,
staff should be encouraged to be vigilant for and report damaged devices.
Furthermore, there are good reasons why pupils and young people should be
informed about the trapping hazards which doors pose, the purpose of the
devices and the need to tell staff about any damage they spot.

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