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powered-gateImproperly installed or maintained powered gates can pose a potential health and safety concern. Several deaths and many more injuries have been attributable to powered gates malfunctioning or simply being the wrong barrier for the purpose to which it was applied.

Powered gates are covered by the Supply of Machinery Regulations, but until recently there was much misunderstanding of how the regulations applied to gates as opposed to other types of powered machines. In 2012 the Door Hardware Federation and HSE issued their Guide to Gate Safety, Legislation and Standards.

The current European Standards are thought to be less rigorous as they are more concerned with industrial doors and aren’t designed to cover gates specifically. Regulations and specifications need to concentrate on eliminating the dangers of crush, impact, shear, draw, hooking, structural and electrical injury or defect. Eliminate these dangers and powered gates will be far safer to operate.

Installers and Maintainers are Held Responsible

Two companies involved in the provision of powered gates were prosecuted in 2014 following deaths that occurred in separate incidents over the same weekend in 2010, however, they weren’t the companies that originally fitted the gates but the companies retained to carry out maintenance. Following on from this, any company that is involved in the fitting and follow-up maintenance is extremely aware of the safety issues concerned and will always aim to exceed the requirements put in place by the European Commission and the HSE.

It should also be borne in mind that any company or individual who installs a motor onto a pre-existing powered gate becomes a powered gate provider, and hence will be subject to the legislation, even if they don’t connect it to a power supply. When machinery is CE marked it is usually the manufacturer that has to secure the safety certificates necessary to prove the product’s safety, however, in the case of powered gates it is down to the installer, this is because the device has to be specially measured, aligned and installed according to the site’s specific requirements.

Risk assessment is a vital part of the ongoing maintenance of a powered gate. Your installer or maintenance operative should carry out regular risk assessment and advise the owner of the property that the gate is on of any concerns that their examination reveals.  It is then down to the owners to implement any recommendations that the maintainer identifies as necessary for to continued safe use of the gate. If the gate is found to be unsafe, then it should be disabled by the installer/maintenance inspectors so that it cannot be run automatically or remotely in order to prevent potential accidents from occurring.