Powered Gates: Responsibilities
The UK has left the EU, and some rules and procedures have changed from 1 January 2021.
Tailored advice to indicate what you need to do to meet your legal responsibilities for the safety of powered gates.
Those designing and manufacturing powered gates, which may include installers (eg when assembling a powered gate from components), must comply with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008. These Regulations apply regardless of whether the product is for use at work, or not.
The Responsible Person (the manufacturer, the manufacturer's authorised representative, or in some cases the installer, importer or distributor where re-branding products in own name) must be able to demonstrate this through a technical file which must be compiled and kept available for the authorities to view on request. The product must be accompanied by a written Declaration of Conformity and comprehensive User Instructions. For the UK market these documents must be in English. Users should be given full information, including on how to safely switch the gate off, or into a safe mode such as hold-to-run, and where necessary, how to release a person if they become trapped by the gate.
These duties apply whether machinery is placed on the market for the first time (eg a complete powered gate), or is put into service for the first time (eg a powered gate made in situ). For example, they apply where 'partly completed machinery', such as many gate actuators, which are supplied with a Declaration of Incorporation, are incorporated with either new or existing gates to form a 'new' powered gate. The person undertaking the final assembly becomes the duty holder as the 'Responsible Person' and must undertake appropriate conformity marking and labelling and issue the Declaration of Conformity.
Economic operators may also have obligations in relation to powered gates (and doors) under the Construction Products Regulation if the products they are placing on the market come within scope of the harmonised European product standard BS EN 13241: 2003+A2: 2016. A Declaration of Performance regarding their suitability for incorporation into construction or building works must be drawn up and supplied, along with instructions on use, safety information and the appropriate marking affixed. However, this may not be required for bespoke powered gates, or those constructed in situ. National Building Regulations may also apply to these products.
All persons installing a powered gate as part of a work activity must install the product safely to meet their obligations towards other persons under Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (Section 6(3) of the Act also applies where the powered gate is to be used at work). Manufacturer's instructions for the product and any component parts should be followed, and the gate should always be left in a safe condition. This may require precautions during assembly, and assessment, examination, testing and adjustment before final hand-over.
Where installers assemble a powered gate from component parts, including where existing manual gates are reused and converted to power operation, in most of these cases the 'converter' or 'installer' becomes the product manufacturer (the 'Responsible Person' in law), and will have all of the obligations of a manufacturer as mentioned above, including the appropriate conformity marking and labelling of the final product and issuing a Declaration of Conformity.
In all cases certain minimum information should be handed over to the user, including copies of relevant instructions and recommendations for safety checks and maintenance. Where force limitation is used for safety, specific details about the limits and how force limitation can be checked should be included.
Significant modifications to an existing powered gate may result in the gate having to undergo a new conformity assessment as the powered gate is in effect a 'new' machine. The same may also apply where gate kits are modified on installation, or installed, in ways not intended by the kit manufacturer. In these cases the person making the changes will be deemed to be the manufacturer.
During commissioning but before hand-over, the installed product will need to be checked for safety and benchmarked for subsequent safety inspections.
If it is considered that a powered gate will be unsafe when installed according to the manufacturer's instructions the person responsible for the site/gate and the product manufacturer (as indicated on the Declaration(s) of Conformity and Instructions) should be informed. The gate should not be left in an unsafe condition.
Importers, suppliers and distributors
A supplier may be the 'Responsible Person', with all the duties as if a manufacturer (see above), where a complete powered gate, a gate 'safety component', or a full kit of parts to make a powered gate, is marketed under their own name or brand, or imported without a Declaration of Conformity or appropriate conformity marking and put into service.
When not the 'Responsible Person' according to the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008, importers, suppliers and distributors still have a duty for the safety of the products they supply (under Section 6(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and/or the General Product Safety Regulations). This includes providing manufacturer's information to the end user, providing those in the supply chain with revised information when a significant new risk comes to light, or, in some cases where danger may result, initiating a product recall and withdrawing the product from the market. They are also responsible for storing the goods safely to avoid deterioration.
Suppliers and distributors need to ensure complete powered gates (and 'safety components') are appropriately marked and each product is accompanied by a Declaration of Conformity and User Instructions in English (the manufacturer's Declaration of Performance should also be provided where the product is in scope of BS EN 13241: 2003+A2: 2016). Other components, particularly electrical, may only need to be supplied with the appropriate marking, labelling and with information concerning their use under the Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations 2016, the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC), and the Radio Equipment Regulations 2017 (eg key fobs for controlling gates). However, wireless safety sensors, photoelectric safety systems and pressure sensitive edges will almost certainly be 'safety components' as defined and so must meet all of the requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008.
'Partly Completed Machinery', such as actuators intended for incorporation with other equipment to make machinery, should be accompanied by a Declaration of Incorporation (DoI) instead of a Declaration of Conformity, made under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 (the DoI should clearly state the product is only intended for incorporation into the final machine).
Owners, occupiers and users
Owners and occupiers of commercial premises with powered gates have duties under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. These include basic safety by construction (Regulation 18) and for maintenance (Regulation 5). They may also have duties under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for the safety of persons (including the public) they do not employ.
While the responsibility for safe design/construction and installation may rest with others, the owner/user should ensure that the installed product is safe, and kept safe. In particular they should study the User Instructions that must come with the product, assessing what servicing and inspection/safety checks may be necessary.
While health and safety law does not apply to owners of powered gates on domestic (privately owned) premises, it is strongly recommended that they are checked regularly.
In all cases it is recommended that the competence and expertise of anyone working on powered gates is checked.
Users should be given information on how to safely switch the gate off, or into a safe mode such as hold-to-run, and where necessary, how to release a person if they become trapped by the gate. This should be passed on to all who need this information.
Landlords, or those responsible for powered gates as part of a work activity (eg managing agents), have duties under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for the safety of people (including the public) they do not employ.
They are expected to maintain similar standards of safety for construction, inspection and maintenance as employers have under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. If competent contractors advise that the equipment is unsafe prompt action should be taken to ensure the safety of everyone.
Those assessing, inspecting, checking, maintaining and repairing powered gates
Those assessing, inspecting, checking, maintaining and repairing powered gates as part of a work activity have duties for safety under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Essentially they should not put others (including the public) at risk. For example, following any maintenance or repair work the gate must be left safe.
Anyone working on powered gates should be competent Microsite (eg have appropriate mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, or pneumatic knowledge, together with the ability where necessary to verify and test both parts and the final product). Specialist equipment may be needed, eg to test force limitation values.
Records of servicing, repair and testing may help to demonstrate what has been done and how the gate is being left safe. They could also be useful as a benchmark for subsequent safety checks. Ideally access to exact settings (eg force limitation) should be kept secure from interference, and the user/occupier being made aware of the significance of these settings for safety. Users/owners should be made aware of the need for periodic checks to ensure safety (although there is no requirement for checks or maintenance of domestic private gates under health and safety law, they are recommended for safety).
Significant modifications to an existing powered gate may result in the gate having to be re assessed under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 as the powered gate may, in effect, be a 'new' machine. The same may also apply where complete gates or gate kits are modified on installation, or installed, in ways not intended by the gate/kit manufacturer. In these cases the person making the changes will be deemed to be the manufacturer ('Responsible Person'). However, simple servicing and straightforward parts replacement will not such re-assessment.
Specifying/purchasing a powered gate, or converting an existing gate to a powered one
New powered gates, which include manual gates converted to powered ones, are machinery subject to the strict product safety requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations when placed on the market, or first put into service.
Architects and buyers need to specify and select suitable products. While powered gates may start as an off-the-shelf product, many become unique machines when they are installed. This is because they often have to be adapted to fit, and adjusted to cope with, the local environment (eg the effects of the wind and terrain). Therefore discussions with the manufacturer, supplier and installer, and a preliminary assessment for safety, may be required before commissioning, as well as a final assessment before first use.
Where multiple persons are involved it is important all understand and agree in advance the various roles of the different parties to ensure all legal duties are met. These include who will be the 'Responsible Person' supplying the final product and so responsible for undertaking conformity assessment, providing the Declaration of Conformity, User Instructions and appropriate conformity marking and labelling.