We are often asked about the rules and regulations surrounding safety for automatic gate kits… how to keep them safe and where you would stand in the event of an accident.
Sadly, there have been numerous deaths and accidents caused by poorly installed automatic gates in recent years and this has lead to a tightening of regulations and control in the industry. Ensuring that your electric gate openers are operating safely must always be your primary concern when choosing and installing equipment
The HSE sum up the basic founding principles of gate safety with the following statement:
Powered door and gate safety is not just about the individual components making up the product, but about the way they are combined together to fit a particular set of circumstances, and what is done over time to maintain safety.
At all times a powered gate must respond in a safe way when any person interacts with it. It’s design must take into account that foreseeable interactions may go well beyond normal use (eg children playing around or with / on the powered gate), as well as normal wear and tear, and adverse environmental influences, particular wind and rain / snow and other debris that can impair function.
Below are a few key questions we are often asked:
What steps can I take to ensure safe operation?
We have previously discussed the importance of having a full risk assessment by a qualified engineer prior to installing your automatic gate kit… this is the key starting point. Also, we have written about having your automatic gate equipment installed by a trained professional.
You will need to have all appropriate safety devices integrated with your automatic gate kit. These will usually include at least one pair of photocells (2 may be required) and safety edges on any reducing gaps & trapping areas. There are additional safety measures on some automatic gate kits which use 24V – these tend to have obstacle detection built in to them which creates a logical belts and braces approach in combination with the other accessories.
A guide to safety on your automatic gate kits can be found here – this specifies the very minimum requirements on a generic gate set up. It provides an overview of how the basics work together.
What is a force test and why do I need one?
Every time a gate moves, it must stop on contact with an obstacle within a certain amount of force. A force testing machine is used to measure the pressure (force) required to trigger the safety device to stop and/or reverse.
A device used for measuring force will be held against your gate edge during its operating cycle
It is important that as part of your regular servicing that a force test is repeated. Over time, flexing against hard gate stops, wearing on the hinges or other environmental factors can cause an automated gate to fail a force test (the force required being larger than the regulations). In this case, if the issue cannot be rectified on site immediately, your engineer will disconnect the gates from the power and leave them in manual mode for you until a time that they can be made safe.
Your gate engineer is not trying to inconvenience you by doing this, but they have a legal obligation to leave your automatic gate kit running safely and to protect their own liability.
What if the regulations change after my installation?
Electric gate safety regulations are being continuously reviewed. Any reputable installer should have carried out your installation to the most up to date regs and also taken extra precautions. This should have all bases covered. It is one of the advantages of having an annual service though – in addition to ensuring your force measurements are still correct, you will be advised of any changes that may effect you.
Who is to blame if there is an accident?
In short…..the last person to have worked on your gates is liable if an accident were to occur! As a homeowner, you are very unlikely to find that your home insurance would cover against such an incident so it is always advised that an accredited installer carries out work on your behalf.
Where can I get more technical information?
There are several resources which you can read through from the main regulatory bodies, links are provided below.