Automated gates – advice for homeowners

GSW LOW RES logo v2 web.fwIt’s Gate Safety Week (October 13-19, 2014). Here Michael Corley, RoSPA’s head of campaigns and fundraising, talks about how to play it safe when installing an electric gate.

Automated or electric gates are becoming a popular feature for homeowners. They are great for bolstering home security and help to create a sense of privacy.

For families with young children and pets, automated gates guard against the risk of an impromptu adventure away from the home environment. Older people or those with a disability may also be attracted to the benefits of automated gates, which do away with the need to get in and out of the car to open a potentially heavy gate.

But much as these gates are a welcome addition to many homes, they can be potentially lethal if there is a failure to stick to the recommended safety measures.

In the last four years, there have been seven accidents relating to automated gates, two of which have resulted in the deaths of young children. These occurred because the gates in question did not carry the correct safety features.

There have also been a further seven accidents, including four fatalities, involving heavy manual and automated gates which have fallen on top of the victim as a result of not having been properly installed.

It is estimated that as many as two-thirds of all automated gates do not meet the current recommended safety protocol, so the likelihood of another accident occurring is quite high, sadly.

Even though Gate Safe’s training course has been running for two years, it’s clear that many electric gates are still being fitted and maintained in a way that causes concern, and there are still gates that were installed before the current guidelines were introduced.

The message is simple: no one should install or work on automated gates without knowing the relevant safety standards.

Consumers should always find a suitably trained installer who understands the safety measures that need to be strictly adhered to.

Gate Safe’s advice to homeowners is:

• If you are having an automated gate fitted, always ask for an installer who has been trained to understand the risks associated with automated gates. Go to the Gate Safe website to find your nearest Gate Safe Aware installer

• An automated gate is classed as a machine. It has a legal requirement to be CE marked

• Any automated gate should be supported by a minimum of two types of safety feature from a choice of safety edges / photo cells and force limitation. Gate Safe always recommends the inclusion of photo cells and safety edges on all automated gates regardless of whether a force limitation device has been installed to ensure the highest level of safety

• If you already have an automated gate, stick to the regular maintenance checks (a minimum of every six months) to ensure its continued safety. The price quoted for an automated gate should incorporate a 12-month fully inclusive maintenance agreement. The cost should also include a training visit to explain to the main users of the gate how to operate it safely and how to disable it in the event of an accident

• Alongside the recommended minimum six-monthly maintenance inspections, all automated gates should be regularly reviewed to identify any changes to the site (for example, if a brick wall is built within close proximity to the gate).

For more information, visit


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