Gate Safety Week: Automated gates for home owners

Automated or electric gates are becoming an increasingly popular feature for homeowners. They are great for bolstering up home security and also help to create an enhanced sense of privacy, screening your property from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

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

But much as these installations are a welcome addition to many homes, they can also be a potentially lethal machine if there is a failure to adhere to the recommended safety measures. In the last four years, there have been seven accidents relating to automated gates, two of which resulted in the tragic deaths of young children. These accidents occurred because the gates in question did not carry the correct safety features designed to avoid the risk of being injured by a moving gate. In addition there have been a further seven accidents, which includes 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.

Today it is estimated that as many as two thirds of all automated gates fail to meet the current recommended safety protocol so the likelihood of another terrible accident occurring is sadly very high.

The advice to homeowners is:

  • If you are installing a new automated gate, always ask for an installer who has been suitably trained to understand the risks associated with automated gates. Go to the Gate Safe web site to find your nearest Gate Safe Aware installer
  • Since the gate is classed as a machine, it has a legal requirement be CE marked, gate that is not CE marked may possibly be safe but is not legal
  • At a basic level 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 the gate’s continued safety. The price quoted for an automated gate from a reputable installer 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 also know how to disable the gate in the event of an accident or power cut
  • 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)

Michael Corley, Head of Campaigns and Fundraising at RoSPA says “Even though Gate Safe's training course has been running for two years now, it's clear that many electric gates are still being fitted and maintained in a way that causes real concern – and of course there are gates out there that were installed prior to the current guidelines being introduced. So, the message is very simple: no one should install or work on automated gates without knowing the relevant safety standards - because failure to do so might result in shouldering the sort of costs that can't be calculated. Consumers should always seek out a suitably trained installer who understands the safety measures that need to be strictly adhered to. ”