Operable Partition Safety And You. What You Need To Know!

operable partitionsIt is a well know fact that New York State Requires Safety Devices on Operable Partition and Gym Curtains.  This is enforced by the New York State Education Department.



  • In January 2011, a 12 year –old Ithaca boy was trapped between a folding gymnasium   partition and a wall.  His death prompted a review of electrically-operated folding partitions and bleachers.  This was not the first time there was an accident involving such equipment.  In March 1991, a 9 year-old girl was fatally injured by an electrically operated moving gym partition when she was caught in the pocket of the returning door.
  • In April 1991, the SED issued guidelines which listed with kinds and types of equipment and features which would make operable partitions safer.
  • In June 1992, NYSED Law was amended by adding a new section409-d (later changed to 409-f).

Safety Requirements for Electrically Operated Partitions:

Section 155.25 Safety Requirements for Electrically Operated Partitions

(a)Purpose.  The purpose of this subdivision is to establish standards pursuant to Education Law, section 409-f, relating to the construction, maintenance and operation of electrically operated partitions located in classrooms or other facilities used by students in public and nonpublic schools or educational institutions within the State.

(b)Definitions.  As used in this section, electrically operated partition means any partition, room divider, curtain or other similar device which is controlled through the operation of an electrical motor.

(c) Minimum construction, maintenance and operation standards for electrically operated partitions.  Except as provided in paragraph (4) of this subdivision, commencing December 31, 2002, the board of education, trustees, principal or other person in charge of every public or private school or educational institution within the State, wherein classrooms or other facilities used by students are found to have electrically operated partitions, shall ensure that:

a. Every electrically operated partition is equipped with two key-operated, tamper-proof, constant pressure control stations that are wired in series, remotely located at opposite ends and opposite sides of, and in view of, the partition, and which are designed and constructed so as to require simultaneous activation of both control stations to operate partition;

b. The electric device controlling the operation of the partition is capable of being reversed at any point in the extend or stack travel cycle; andoperable partitions gym

c. Device(s) are provided for all partitions that will stop the forward or backward motion of the partition and stop the stacking motion of the partition when a body or object passes between the leading panel of such partition and a wall or other termination point, or when a body or object is in the stacking area of such partition;

d.  A board of education, trustees, principal or other person in charge of a public or private school or educational institution within the State shall be excused from compliance with the provisions of this subdivision for the period of December 31, 2002 through June 1, 2003, upon submission to the commissioner of a written certification, in a form prescribed by the commissioner, certifying that such school or institution is unable to fully comply with the provisions of Education Law, section 409-f, as amended by chapter 217 of the Laws of 2001, and that such school or institution shall follow the procedures set forth in paragraph (d)(5) of this section until such time as compliance is achieved.

(d) Safety requirements and operation guidelines for electrically operated partitions.  The board of education, trustees, principal or other person in charge of every public and private school or educational institution within the State shall ensure that:

a. Appropriate and conspicuous notice regarding the safe and proper operation and supervision of the electrical device operating such partition shall be posted inn the immediate vicinity of each operating mechanism, on both sides of the separation and adjacent to the operating mechanism;

b. A procedure is established for the notification of all school employees and all other persons who regularly make use of the area where such device is located of the safe and proper procedure for the operation of the mechanism.  Staff shall be apprised of safety features and trained in the safe operation of the partition.  In addition, such training shall include discussion of past accidents and the potential and possibility of serious injury or death, and information regarding the administrative and civil penalties and accountability for non-compliance with legal requirements, including the penalties for disabling safety equipment required pursuant to Education Law, section 409-f.  Records shall be maintained regarding the training provided;

c. Students shall not be permitted to operate such partition.  Any students present while the partition is being operated shall be under the direct supervision of trained staff and shall be required to stand away from and  not to be allowed to cross the path of the moving partition;operable partition walls

d. Safety features shall not be tampered with, overridden, or by-passed.  All equipment must be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, including the manufacturer’s recommended service interval, and records of such maintenance shall be permanently retained at the district or private school.  All equipment shall be installed in a fail-safe manner such that the failure of any safety device shall render the electrically operated partition inoperable until such device is repaired; and

e. Until such time as the safety devices required pursuant to subdivision (c) of this section are installed and functioning in an electrically operated partition, the following additional procedures shall be followed with respect to the operation of such partition:

i. The partition shall not be operated during normal school hours;

ii. The partition shall not be operated when there are students or other individuals, other than the required operators, present in the space being divided;

iii. The partition shall be operated only by individuals who are properly trained in the safe operation of the partition; and

iv. Appropriate signage stating the requirements in subparagraphs (i) through (iii) of this paragraph shall be posted adjacent to each partition operating station.

Operable Partitions and Curtains are required to be inspected every year according to NYS Law.

Click here for Additional Information from NYSED about Operable Partitions.


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