Using a Gudgeon Pin to Secure Gate
A fencing company and a landowner have escaped an enormous damages bill after an appeals court overturned an earlier finding that they negligently used an old engine part to secure a gate, which allowed cattle to get onto the road and cause a serious motor vehicle accident.
The Tasmanian Supreme Court found a reasonable person in the same position as the fencing contractor or landowner would have believed using a gudgeon pin to secure a chain would be sufficient to prevent cattle forcing the gate open. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
We as safety professionals routinely recommend only using certified equipment and obtaining expert engineering advice where the level of safety is in question.
However, the Tasmanian Supreme Court cited a High Court case which in part stated, “holding defendants to standards of conduct that do not reflect the common experience of the relevant community can only bring the law of negligence and administration of justice into disrepute”.
Inspection of other farm gates accessing the Bass Highway after the accident found 16 of 27 gates were secured with gudgeon pins eg using gudgeon pins with chains and rings to secure boundary fences was common on Tasmanian farms at that time.
However, knowledge and common practice has advanced, so we recommend you check fences and gates regularly to ensure they are capable of resisting likely forces eg consider size and type of animals you are seeking to contain.