In 2006, the first series of high profile child deaths associated with powered gates occurred, followed by the watershed moment in 2010 when two children died in separate powered gate incidents in the same week. It would be entirely fair to say that, since then, there has been a huge change in perceptions and understanding of the rules, standards and culture of the industry.
The current range of European standards affecting powered gates is generally accepted to be less than perfect, primarily because they were drawn up by a committee that was focused on industrial doors rather than perimeter gates. In 2011, HSE issued a formal objection to the standards as a result of the 2010 child death investigations. Then, in 2013, the serious injury of another child in a sliding gate incident led to reinforcement of this position. The draft of the replacement European standard was circulated for comment in 2014, which generated multiple comments and objections. The European committee responsible for this new standard is now in the process of considering and addressing those comments. The final scope and proposed publication date for the new standard is still, as yet, not known. It is though universally now accepted that a safe powered gate is one which has all crush, impact, shear, draw in, cutting, hooking, structural and electrical hazards identified and resolved such that persons will not be trapped or otherwise injured by the gate.
In 2014, two companies associated with one of the 2010 child death incidents were convicted of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act. Interestingly, the companies that were prosecuted were not the original installers but those who had been involved in repair and maintenance of the gate since installation. Understandably today, those involved in repair and maintenance of powered gates, are, wisely, very sensitive about the safety of systems they repair or maintain.
The period since 2010 has seen a gradual and ongoing improvement in the understanding of the rules within the industry. It is understandable then that there are a large number of unsafe gates still in operation today and that, as maintenance or repair companies encounter them, they will be informing the owners of safety problems with their gates.
The gate systems which we install are to a high standard and with the correct safety devices installed to ensure the system meets with the current regulations.
Safety photocells and resistive rubber edges are fitted to the correct areas on the gates and these will work along side the automation equipment which will usually have the anti-crush obstacle detection system already built into the drive units.
We will force test the system and provide the necessary pass results to ensure your new gate system operates safely.
As a recent industry seminar HSE made the following observation.
“The prime function of identifying the responsibilities of duty holders is not to hold them accountable when things go wrong but to ensure that things do not go wrong in the first place.”
“Don’t think what do I need to do to avoid prosecution?”
“But, what do I need to do to make the situation safe?”
The regulations applicable to maintenance and repair companies are now quite clear due, in some part at least, to the legal precedent set by numerous prosecutions during 2013 and 2014.
Repair and Maintenance companies are bound by the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure that any works they undertake will result in a safe outcome.
Owners of workplace powered gates are bound by the Workplace Regulations 1992 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure their gates are in a safe condition.
Landlords and managing agents are bound by the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure their gates are maintained and in safe condition.
Domestic owners of powered gates are advised to keep them in a safe condition or face the possibility of being sued for negligence should anything go wrong.
Any party, whether owner or practitioner, who by their actions or inactions causes injury or damage to property of others, faces the possibility of civil action for damages due to negligence. This applies equally to owners, maintainers, repairers or installers of powered gates.
If your powered gate service provider comes to you with concerns over the safety of your gate system, please understand that they are not just looking to protect themselves but also are attempting to protect you, your employees, tenants, clients or anybody else who may come into contact with your gate system. You may have concerns that is seems rather late in the day to be raising this issue, or that the gate may not have been entirely safe when it was first installed, please take into account that there has been a steep learning curve for all concerned in the industry (including HSE) and that the most important thing now is to ensure that the correct course of action is taken going forward.
It is entirely possible that your automatic gate service provider will advise that an unsafe gate be switched off or otherwise secured to make it safe. Please take note of their advise, but also be aware that the gate system is yours and that the ultimate decision will be yours. If you elect to leave it in service you do so entirely as your own volition and against good sound professional advise. In many cases, a powered gate can revert to manual use pending upgrade of the safety systems or sometimes the means of control can be changed to hold-to-run, whereby the gate is controlled by a trained operator who has to keep a switched pressed, in view of the gate , from a place of safety, for the gate to move.
At no point should the owner and contractor attempt to enter into an agreement that transfers the contractor’s responsibility to the owner. It is not possible under UK law to transfer a criminal responsibility from one party to another by means of civil contract. This could be seen by investigation authorities as colluding with the other to maintain an unsafe situation.
As a result, if an owner refuses to have an unsafe gate made safe, then it could be that the contractor may have no other option than to exit the contract. If the result is an unsafe gate remaining in service, then the HSE see this as an unacceptable situation.
More information on powered gate safety can be found at:
"I would like to thank all at ASE Autogate Ltd for their professional installation.Mr Lister, Ilkley
All the engineers worked very hard, were extremely polite and accommodating and left the job clean and tidy each day.
I am more than happy with the whole installation."
"Having used ASE auto gates for the external barrier requirements for Huddersfield New College , I can confirm they offer a full upgrade solution that fits the colleges current and future needs , from the first enquiry to the completion of the project the team from ASE could not have been more helpful , fully communicating at all points of the works, the upgraded equipment offer a greatly improved first impression for our campus that offer enhanced contact for all our barrier users , both cars and lorries , allowing a quicker response time from the college reception team for access to be allowed.Mark HirstEstates Manager at Huddersfield New College
I would have no hesitation in recommending ASE for any barrier work“
"Our pre-existing gates (not fitted by ASE) were giving us problems, and also they needed safety upgrades. Simon and his team from ASE were very professional, turned up on time and delivered ...on schedule. His workers were polite and considerate, and a pleasure to have on site.
The newly-fitted mechanism makes us realise just how shoddy the first installation was - now much smoother and quicker to open and close. Also, we have the comfort of knowing that the safety interlocks will keep our grandchildren safe.
Our drive was left in pristine condition, with all the cut-out sections neatly restored.
Highly recommended"Mr Bury, Leeds