Association of Residential Managing Agents

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We are grateful to Richard Jenkins, Chief Executive, NSI (National Security Inspectorate) for providing this article.

Powered gates and barriers are an increasingly visible part of security for homes, having previously been confined to the realm of commercial environments and high net worth properties. They are now regularly specified for multi-occupancy residential buildings.

Installed correctly powered gates provide valuable security, however the health and safety risk from sub-standard installations and maintenance should not be under-estimated.

The Door and Hardware Federation (DHF) estimates that of 500,000 automated gates in the UK less than 30% are installed and maintained safely. Over the last 10 years accidents caused by gates whilst closing/opening or as a result of structural failure have, tragically, resulted in a number of deaths and serious injuries.

Such incidents are few and far between, but when they occur they can lead to financial penalties and even custodial sentences for those found guilty of negligence.

Who is responsible?

Gate owners and operators have responsibilities to take the necessary steps to make safe their gates - including appointing competent installers and maintenance engineers.

The owner or operator, in this case the freeholder or managing agent, is ultimately responsible for meeting the requirements of the Health and Safety Act and Workplace Regulations to ensure hazards are properly identified and controlled; this includes the management and operation of powered gates and barriers. 

Ensuring new powered gates and barriers are compliant with the Supply of Machinery Regulations and that these and existing systems are maintained by a competent organisation sounds straightforward. However, these are complex pieces of equipment often unsupervised, requiring attention to detail in the design and installation process and the provision of specialist maintenance at appropriate intervals to reduce malfunction and the potential for a serious injury or death.

Choose Independently Approved Installers: look for NSI Gates approval

Working together the NSI and the DHF have provided an effective standard and approval scheme for installers of powered gates and barriers and maintenance companies operating to best practice, making them readily identifiable to those responsible for multi-occupancy residential buildings.

Buyers who choose NSI approved companies can be assured of security and fire safety services delivered to British and European Standards, Codes of Practice and Certification schemes developed by Industry Bodies and Associations, by businesses committed to quality. NSI Gates approval signifies integrity and business professionalism as well as technical competence in powered gates.

Tips for powered gates

It is recommended the person responsible for safety consider the following points when conducting an inspection to reduce the hazards associated with powered gates and barriers within residential buildings: 

  • In the case of sliding gates or lifting barriers, for all areas protected from unauthorised access, is the gate or barrier fitted with ‘safety edges’ - to cause the gate to stop or reverse its movement when an obstacle is encountered?
  • Is a safe edge or intelligent drive fitted - which causes the gate or barrier to retract when an obstacle is encountered between the ground and its lower edge?
  • Are pedestrians and vehicles detectors - such as light beams - installed on both sides of the gate(s) or barrier(s) to prevent or stop gate or barrier movement when something or someone approaches the gate?
  • Are hinge areas protected with flexible guards - to prevent crushing of limbs – or is a ‘safe hinge’ design utilised to ensure a constant gap throughout gate opening or closing to avoid the risk of crushing?
  • Do gates present a shearing hazard as they pass fixed supports or adjacent structures, and if so are safety edges or fencing used to stop the gate and prevent unintentional pinching or crushing of pedestrians?
  • Are the gates themselves, gate-posts or support pillars and doorstops or travel stops structurally sound so as to not present a risk of structural failure causing injury?
  • Do you as the owner or operator know how to put the gate into manual operation and electrically isolate the gate in case of emergency?

If you are unable to determine the answers to these questions you could run the risk of being liable for an incident involving an unsafe gate.

Regular maintenance is vital to ensure a gate remains safe and compliant. Check all documentation related to installation and the maintenance regime:

  • A qualified installer will always specify in detail the elements of the gate that need maintenance
  • If maintenance has lapsed, a qualified maintenance provider should be appointed to develop a suitable programme
  • A qualified installer can advise if an unsafe gate should be switched off or otherwise secured to make it safe. Switching on a gate that has been assessed to be unsafe could make the operator or owner criminally liable for any subsequent accident.

Find out more about NSI approval for powered gates here:

Who is the NSI?

NSI is the UK's leading, independent UKAS accredited certification body within the security systems, guarding and fire safety sectors, helping to protect homeowners, businesses and the general public through rigorous independent audit of more than 1,800 security and safety providers.

For more information, please contact NSI at or go to