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Raising standards for the installation and maintenance of powered gates

Author : Richard Jenkins, chief executive, NSI

05 October 2017

Photo courtesy of TI Security
Photo courtesy of TI Security

Powered gates and barriers are an increasingly important part of a multi-faceted security plan.

Previously installed almost exclusively for commercial environments and high net worth homes, they are now regular features of inner city apartment complexes, public and multiple occupancy buildings.

Although security is improved the risk from sub-standard installations and poor maintenance should not be under-estimated.

The Door and Hardware Federation (DHF) considers that less than 30% of the 500,000 automated gates in the UK are installed and maintained safely.

Accidents in recent years caused by gates closing or opening without warning, jamming, falling from the guide tracks or from faulty electrics, have resulted in death and serious injury.

Fatalities are few and far between but do happen. Gate operators and maintenance providers should take all necessary steps to avoid accidents.

This includes using installers and maintenance engineers who recognise their responsibilities for safe, working gates.

The owner is ultimately responsible for health and safety and can face prosecution under the Health and Safety Act.

It is in their interest to ensure powered gates and barriers are compliant with the Supply of Machinery Regulations and that they are maintained by a competent organisation.

Look out for installers with NSI Gates Gold or Silver approval

The NSI (National Security Inspectorate) and the DHF recognised the need to not only establish a standard, but also create and promote an approval scheme so those installers and maintenance companies working to best practice would be easily identifiable to consumers.

NSI Gold and Silver certification is seen as the hallmark of excellence in the security and fire systems’ installation sectors.

These approvals are a benchmark of competence that buyers of security and fire services use to make informed choices.

The addition of an approval for powered gates and barriers leverages the integrity of the NSI brand and enables buyers to use NSI certification as a benchmark.

Tips for powered gates

Look at the gates and see whether there is any obvious evidence of safety equipment in operation such as:
• Touch sensitive control provided either by safety edges or intelligent drive units causing the gate to retract if it encounters an obstacle.
• The lower edge of a swing gate must be protected by either a safe edge or intelligent drive. There should be light beams across the entrance to detect pedestrians and vehicles as they approach the gate.
• The hinge area must be protected by flexible guards or safety edges or have hinges that have a constant gap throughout opening and closing.
• Where a gate creates a shearing hazard as it passes a fixed support safety edges, fencing and light curtains should be used to prevent access to the movement.
• Regular maintenance is vital to ensure a gate remains safe and compliant. A qualified installer will always specify in detail the elements of the gate that need maintaining, and at what intervals.
• Where there is no maintenance regime, perhaps because the original installer cannot be traced, a qualified maintenance provider will develop a suitable maintenance routine to keep the gate safe.
• A qualified installer can advise where an unsafe gate should be switched off or otherwise secured to make it safe. Switching on a gate that has been advised to be unsafe could make the owner criminally liable for any subsequent accident.

Gate Safety Week

As part of NSI’s commitment to raising safety standards we are proud to work together with the DHF.

The DHF runs Gate Safety Week, a campaign to create awareness of the need for correct installation and maintenance of powered gates.

This year’s Gate Safety Week runs from October 9th – 15th.

Visit for more information.

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