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Automatic Electric Gate Safety

Introduction to the Safety of Automatic Electric Gates

Electric gates are a popular addition to many properties, but few people realise that they are installing a piece of equipment classed as a machine. If not installed correctly by a professional the system has the potential to cause serious harm. During the summer of 2010 two young children died after becoming trapped in powered gates. They were trapped because;

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued two safety notices in 2010 giving details on the risks and the protection method needed. The HSE now requires electric gate installers to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment of hazards to anyone using the gates prior to design and installation, and for the design to eliminate or considerably reduce any risks identified. The HSE also requires that persons responsible for the management and maintenance of electric gates should be provided with appropriate documentation, instructions for use and training to operate and maintain the gates safely, and recommends that regular reviews of assessments should be undertaken to ensure the gates are maintained in a safe condition.

Links to further information:

HSE: Risks to pedestrians from crushing zones on electrically powered gates
HSE: Further information on Gate Safety
HSE: Powered Gates Safety Notice 02/09/2010 (PDF document, 40kb)
DHF: Guide to Gate Safety (PDF document, 5mb)

Persons with Responsibilities for Gate Safety

Except in a private dwelling where no staff are employed, the person in control of premises has responsibilities under health and safety legislation. The relevant legislation includes the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 as well as the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008. These responsibilities include ensuring that the gate is fitted with any necessary safety devices, maintaining it an efficient working order and keeping a suitable record of maintenance. Note that 'efficient' in this context means from the point of view of health and safety (not convenience or economy). When designing, constructing, installing and/or commissioning electrically powered gates, or where managing sites where electrically powered gates exist, responsible persons, including GATE RISK ASSESSMENT installers, must ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that they have undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to identify any hazards and associated risks to persons using the gates. This should include consideration of the following;

You should also ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that you have eliminated and/or controlled any risks identified from the risk assessment. Wherever possible risks should be eliminated, but where they need to be controlled technology such as fixed guards, pressure sensitive strips, safety sensor flooring, light barriers or infra-red detectors may help control and/or reduce the risk, but consideration needs to be given to how a person may still be harmed if one of these systems fail.

Any component parts (such as motors and motor arms) supplied by separate manufacturers should be installed in accordance with the manufacturers guidance, and used in accordance with their instructions for use;

Where the gates are defined as a machine under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations a conformity assessment must be undertaken by a responsible person prior to their use, and a technical file compiled. Any information or instructions required on how to operate the gates should be made available to the person(s) or organisation that the gates are produced for. Persons adopting the responsibility for the management and maintenance of the gates should be provided with the appropriate safety documentation, instructions for use, and training in how to operate and maintain the gates safely. Persons using the gates regularly should be given appropriate information, instruction and training on how to operate them safely.

Gate Risk Assessment - Actions Required by Property Managers

All electrical gates under the management control of property managers should be formally risk assessed by a competent gate contractor. Management Company directors who, in their role of responsible person(s), choose not to have an assessment undertaken must inform the property manager of their decision in writing. Once a risk assessment has been completed, a copy of the document should be immediately passed to directors along with estimates to have corrective work carried out should the risk assessment recommend safety modifications to the gate installation. Directors and property managers should note in particular the areas of risk identified within the assessment together with the recommended timescales for corrective actions.

NB. Regarding gate installations that are subject to corrective work, the property manager is to ensure that a revised risk assessment and a declaration of conformity are obtained from the gate company without exception. All documentation should be stored on On-base for future reference. In the event that the risk assessment deems the gate to be unsafe or dangerous and the responsible person/management company director refuses to have it upgraded the installer/competent gate risk assessor should;

The gate should not be placed in use again until the gate is signed off as meeting the machine directive guidelines and compliance with a declaration of conformity.

Documentation to be Obtained at Handover For Your Electric Gates

All automatic gate systems by LAW must be installed in compliance with the Machinery Directive MD2006/42/EC and supporting standards. The directive requires several key documents to be created in a technical file. Parts of this technical file should be handed over with the finished gate product. In addition the final product must also be CE marked and display a label or stamp from its manufacturer. The required documents to be obtained at handover include the following;

Maintenance and Servicing of Gates

Automatic gates, properly installed, should represent good value for money and give years of trouble free use.The installer will have left a service/maintenance log when they installed the gates. This log should be kept in a place of safe custody by the property manager. The log will tell you the frequency of maintenance however as a general rule automated gates should be maintained every six months on commercial ie. apartment blocks. or at yearly intervals for low usage gate ways ie. private residences of not more than twelve operations a day. Servicing is a very important and integral part of any automated gate installation, by scheduling routine preventative maintenance for such installations the overall running costs can be dramatically reduced. In the event that maintenance is not carried out as laid down by the manufacturer then the gate owner could well be held responsible for any damage caused by malfunctioning (provided that the event cannot be traced to an original or installation defect).

Please call us for more information on Maintenance and Servicing on 0800 085 3696 or click here for further contact details.