However, if not installed and maintained correctly, these gates can pose severe and sometimes fatal risks.
Tragically, accidents involving unsafe automated gates have led to injuries and even fatalities, drawing attention to the importance of proper safety measures. In response to such incidents, courts have imposed penalties ranging from fines up to £500,000 and even jail sentences.
To ensure a gate is safe, it must comply with relevant safety regulations and function as intended. Automated gates are categorised as machines and must be equipped with safety features that detect and prevent accidents, such as crushing, dragging, or trapping individuals.
A minimum of two types of safety features should be present on ANY electric gate.
Gate Safe, an organisation dedicated to improving gate safety since 2010, advises property professionals to adhere to a checklist to ensure safety:
Non-contact safety devices like photocells, light curtains, or laser scanners should prevent gates from closing on people or vehicles.
Contact safety features like safety edges detect contact and cause the gate to halt and reverse, mitigating risks.
Look for the UKCA/CE mark on the gate, indicating adherence to legal requirements and instilling confidence in the installer's competence.
Consider the gate's surroundings and how they may impact safety, avoiding potential climbing aids or pinch points.
Ensure appropriate gaps around the gate to prevent trapping or crushing hazards.
Swing gates should have three hinges or include a gate tether to prevent falling in the event of hinge failure.
Sliding gates should have multiple physical stops in both open and closed positions to avoid overtraveling.
The above are requirements, but these alone will not necessarily mean a gate is safe. Regular risk assessments are crucial to address any changes to the site that may affect the gate's safety.
Maintenance is mandatory, as per the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 Regulation 5. Routine service and safety device checks should be conducted every six months as specified in BS EN 12453:2017. Gate owners should maintain a maintenance log, similar to a car log, to demonstrate regular servicing.
While residential property owners have no legal obligation for maintenance, it is recommended to have a six-monthly service visit to ensure safety. The Gate Safe MOT, a weatherproof sticker, provides visible proof of maintenance and is available from registered Gate Safe installers.
Property agents should verify maintenance records for automated gates when taking on a property to ensure the gates pose no safety hazards, just like they would request a valid gas inspection certificate. By prioritising proper installation, maintenance, and adherence to safety standards, accidents and injuries related to automated gates can be significantly reduced.