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Gate Safety

A gate, even a manual gate, is considered to be a machine that has been built by the installer on site. EC law requires that machinery for sale in the EU complies with the EC machinery directive, primarily for safety of the user. Every gate is different, so every gate is required to be assessed for the dangers it poses to the public and home owner. That record of documents is required to be kept by the installer for 10 years, and must be made available for inspection by authorised bodies.

The pack consists of

1) Sufficient drawings and diagrams to show the construction standard at the point the system was handed over. This will include manufacturers manuals and contact details to show that the equipment was intrisically safe and had been installed correctly

3) Instructions for safe use and maintenance of the system

2) An analysis of the risks of injury to users and the public, with a description of the remedy designed to over come the dangern

4) Where applicable, a test record of the forces in the risk areas

5) A declaration from the installer showing which standards the system complies with and a label or plate showing the CE mark required by law

There are a number of guides to risk assessment. One of the first was the Italian industry guides made freely available. There are links below to view or download the UNAC guides, and other useful compliance documents.

When the system is proven to be safe and the Declaration of Conformity has been signed, the CE mark can be affixed to the machine (gate). At the point of handover, the home-owner becomes responsible for the maintainance of the system. The home-owner should also carry a copy of the document pack.

Any changes to the system could affect the system's safety. It is important that proposed changes are considered reviewing the risk assessment, and if the changes are undertaken, they are recorded as part of the new build state.

The declaration refers to the safe design of the system. This allows other companies to maintain the system with reference to the manuals in the document pack. So if a component fails, it can be changes like for like, without the need to change the document pack. A maintenance log would be a sensible record to keep, but unless it is cited as a necessary in the user manual, it is not compulsory

The dangers of automatic gates are frequently in the news to raise awareness. The HSE (Heath and Safety Executive) have a website showing news articles and advice. Installers and owners of gates can be called to book over unsafe gates. The cases often tease out that the reasons for the accident were foolish disregard for advice readily available. Modern control panels are much safer than those of a decade ago. Most of these accidents would not occur on a modern system properly installed.


Control panel safety varies between sets. Most panels have a feature called PSR, pressure sensitive reversal. The gate motion is monitored and the gate pressure controlled. So when the gate slows down, the panel assumes there is an obstacle, so reverses direction. FORESEE technology monitors the power to the motor on low voltage (24V) and high voltage types. PICO Sliding gate motors monitor by optical encoder. That said, some hazards cannot be protected, and some applications require a greater level of vigilance than others. Additional safety devices can be connected to the control panel to make it even more safe.


A non-contact devices such as this infra-red photobeam can detect an obstacle without any harm. The safety photobeam fitted between the gate posts prevents the gate from trying to close. If the beam is broken while the gate is closing, the gate will stop and re-open. A complete ring of four photobeams around the gate area prevents any person getting near the gate without stopping the gate. The ring is the simplest form of protection. Gates with a safety ring need not be tested for safe force testing.


Sensitive edges offer a positive contact protection against two passing or converging edges. On swing gates, they are normally fitted to fixed objects such as gate posts to protect against pinch points. Rubber safety edges are designed to deform as they switch, but the deformation area must be matched to the speed of the gate. Thin safety edges with little or no deformation area are used close to a gate hinge where gaps close relatively slowly.


Prevention of accidents is always a good practice. An audible or visual warning device such as a beeper or flashing light are simple additions for sensitive areas and applications such as public utilities. The FA40 lamp body also provides an external aerial for improved remote range. The beeper is more suited to pedestrians.

A vehicle loop detector is not a safety device in terms of Health and safety. It only responds to metal objects, so is valuable protection for a car. Gate safety only refers to personal injury. Non contact devices such as photobeams are favoured.

Safety is a complex subject. These gate openers are designed for a single dwelling private gates. PSR on lightweight gates can be perfectly sufficient for this application. The european norm EN12453 lays down further standards to work to for industrial, public area, and other specialist applications.

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