Guest blog from RoSPA

Automated gates. Are you keeping your house safe as well as secure?

Automated gates offer a number of benefits to home owners looking to improve the security of their home, by moving the ‘front door’ to the outer perimeter of your property.







They represent a strong visual deterrent to potential intruders looking to gain access to the property; they prevent children or pets from straying; they can deliver considerable enhanced privacy and of course they also make for an ultra convenient means of entering / exiting without the need to leave the car – representing a particularly helpful device for anyone with restricted mobility. However, if incorrectly installed, the very gates that so many home owners install to protect their loved ones are capable of causing horrific injuries that can ultimately lead to loss of life.

In the UK there have been seven deaths and ten ‘near miss’ accidents since 2010 as a result of unsafe gates - and these are just the ones that have been recorded. But given that industry experts estimate that over 90% of gates in the UK don’t comply with the recommended guidelines and therefore represent a safety hazard, sadly that number is likely to increase …

If you were planning minor home / property improvements such as cavity wall insulation, some minor electrical work or replacing a boiler, or even just installing gates and fencing over 1m high at the front of a property, you would need to gain planning permission before progressing.

So it seems inappropriate that when it comes to installing an automated gate – which is actually defined in law as a machine – currently anyone can undertake the job and no formal permission or training is required beforehand. All too often these gates are fitted by what Gate Safe terms the ‘accidental installer’ an electrician or similar tradesperson who happens to be working on other projects in the home and ‘accidentally’ gets involved in a job which is outside of his area of expertise. You can even transform a humble manual gate into a fully functioning powered version by purchasing an automation kit.

Gate Safe is campaigning to introduce stricter planning regulations surrounding automated gates, which would require any installation to be undertaken by an installer who has undertaken the specialist training required to understand what constitutes a safe gate.

But in the absence of planning permission, what can a homeowner do to ensure the safety of any automated gate being installed? First and foremost, insist upon using a professionally qualified installer, visit the Gate Safe Aware register (www.gate-safe.org) to find an installer in your area who has undergone the specialist Gate Safe Aware training course, accredited by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, the world’s largest professional health and safety membership organisation. If you are interested in converting a manual gate into a powered one, don’t be tempted to attempt to buy an automation kit and do the job yourself or ask a general tradesman to do so. You should only approach a suitably trained installer to fit an automation kit but be aware that unless the product includes the relevant additional features required to deliver a safe and compliant installation, any reputable installer is likely to refuse the job because by doing so he assumes a legal responsibility for the safety of the gate. You would have to question the morality of the installer that fits these ‘cost effective’ devices in the knowledge that they could cause a serious injury or far worse … What is more important, saving money or saving lives?

Automated gates should only be purchased from a responsible supplier and should be installed according to the safety advice laid down by current legislation and in line with best industry practice.

As a home owner you wouldn’t dream of attempting to fit your own gas boiler. You certainly wouldn’t allow an untrained mechanic near your car. So why take the risk of potentially putting you, your family and even members of the public at risk as a result of allowing the installation of an unsafe automated gate?