Barrier Attendant Safety Step - simple but effective innovation

Barrier Attendant Safety Step

Barrier Attendant Safety Step - simple but effective innovation

  • On May 7, 2020


Pakenham Racing Club in south-east Victoria, Australia, was asked by their barrier attendants (handlers) to improve the safety and ergonomics of their current starting gate. Budget constraints did not allow for a new gate, so it was a case of examining the identified issues and developing a solution.

Recognising that the key issue was to ensure efficient and safe mobility for the barrier attendants, Steriline developed some cost-effective improvements to the gate, which included:

  1. Lowering the gate by using low-profile tyres to reduce the height for barrier attendants to climb up, 
  2. Installing a moveable safety step to provide easier and safer access for the barrier attendants; and 
  3. Putting a handle on the rear of the gate to assist the barrier attendants to step up.

Two of the above solutions have been available and in use on some Steriline gates for a few years, however, the safety step was a new solution that Steriline designed after feedback and consultation from the industry.  

Rather than putting in a fixed step which could result in the horse getting trapped underneath, Steriline designed an innovative movable step solution. 

Barrier Attendant Safety paddock close up

The step is made from hot dip galvanised steel for longevity, it can move backwards and upwardsout of the way of an obstruction or horse, returning back to its natural position after contact with the obstruction.Horses are known to move backwards in the stall, putting pressure on the back gates, and occasionally kicking out under the back gates. Using the Steriline step design, the step moves out of the way so a horse will not injure themselves on a solid step protruding under the back gates. Therefore, protecting the horse, as well as providing easier and safer access for the handlers.   

The step increases safety for the barrier attendants bmaking it easier and more ergonomic for them to manoeuvre up and into the stalls whilst loading the horses. The addition also improves the safety of the horses as stated by Melbourne Racing Club, General Manager of Racecourses, Jason Kerr Horse Safety – that is paramount. If the horse kicks back the step will move back and reduce the chance of harming the horse. Also, being able to fold up means that the horse is very unlikely to get their leg stuck.”  

Compared to a fixed step, the added feature of Steriline’s moveable step increases barrier attendant safety and it may assist to reduce the rate of horse scratchings from races. The simple, yet practical design is also almost maintenance-free. 

Barrier Attendant Safety Step multiple

“The step makes it a lot easier for the Barrier Attendants than previously” – Kevin Butter, Packenham Racing Club.  

“Now that the step has been designed and installed it looks so simple, it enhances the existing functionality of the gate,” said John Fargher, CEO of Steriline Racing.  Though designing something that is so simple, with almost no need for maintenance is actually quite difficult. It is these simple but efficient designs that make a great racing gate.” 

The moveable step can be retrofitted to any of the Steriline Silver Starting Gates. 

If your gate is due for an upgrade, visit our product page to see all the new additions. If you would like to improve the work health and safety of your gate, then contact us directly to find out more about our racetrack solutions, or we can arrange a meeting on-site to review your starting gate.

Maintain your starting gate - click here to download the recommended maintenance checklist to get the most out of our gate on race day