Gate safety – you are already criminally liable if there’s an accident resulting from negligence towards electric gate safety at blocks of flats.

Following last December’s £50,000 fine imposed on a powered gate company following the horrific death of a child in a Manchester home in 2010, you may have heard that the Door & Hardware Federation’s (DHF) Powered Gate Group has now launched an online petition highlighting the fact that owners of domestic gates are not covered by existing health & safety laws.

However, blocks of flats are already covered by existing law. They are treated as commercial premises for insurance purposes, and it is the responsibility of freeholders, Residents’ Management Companies (RMCs) and Right To Manage Companies (RTMCs) to carry out and act on risk assessments.

If they don’t and if an accident occurs, it leaves them open to claims of negligence and prosecution under criminal law by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) . So, as well as taking positive steps to eliminate risk, they should also be sure to have Directors& Officers’ Liability cover in place.

Neil Sampson, chairman of the DHF Powered Gate Group said: “In the past ten years, there have been seven deaths in the UK and Ireland, at least nine serious injuries and countless near misses caused by dangerous powered gates. Shockingly, it is estimated that 70% of the 500,000 automated gates in service in the UK are unsafe to use.” As well as warning owners and users of gates through initiatives like Gate Safety Week, the DHF provides a directory of safety-assured installers.

Further advice on gate safety is offered by the Association of Residential Managing Agents and don’t forget to ensure your Directors& Officers’ Liability cover is current.

Who is responsible for making sure that powered gates are safe?

The manufacturer and/or installer is responsible for designing and building a safe gate.

After installation, the owner must take the responsibility of ensuring that the gate operates safely.

Any engineer who works on the gate is also responsible for ensuring that the gate is left in a safe condition when the work is complete.

And what does the law actually say?

  • The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations compels manufacturers and installers of new powered gates, irrespective of where they are installed, to ensure that the gate is safe when first put into service.
  • The Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations require that owners of workplace (commercial premises) gates keep them maintained in a safe condition AND The Health and Safety at Work Act requires that gates at rented properties are kept in a safe condition by the landlord. In practice, this includes blocks of flats.
  • The Health and Safety at Work Act compels anyone carrying out work on a gate, whether private or commercial, to ensure that the result will be safe.