Automatic Gate & Barrier Safety & Force Testing

Automatically operated gates and barriers are generally installed for the protection of persons and / or property and you need to be safe in the knowledge that your automated system is safe in operation and complies with the impact force standards established in the harmonized European Standards EN 12445 & E12453.


If you own or manage premises that operate automated gates or an automatic barrier system you have a legal responsibility to ensure that the automated gate / automatic barrier system is force tested annually to EN12453. A fully documented Force Test to EN12453 records the force exerted by the automated gate / automatic barrier and should not exceed the permitted levels.


Do you need to have your automatic gate or barrier serviced


The short answer to whether your gate or barrier needs servicing is Yes. Routine maintenance of an automated gate / barrier is an essentially to ensure you are complying with the latest legislation and will increase the life span of your automated system. The frequency in which an automated system requires inspecting is largely dependent on how may operations are carried out each day, as a general rule of thumb a domestic automated gate should be serviced annually with a force impact test carried out annually. Commercial installations including apartment blocks and schools should be serviced bi-annually with a force impact test carried out annually or when modifications are made to the automated gate / automatic barrier.


















The Health & Safety Executive has identified the following risks that require consideration:  




BS EN 12453:2001 recommends a minimum level of safeguarding against the crushing hazard at the closing edge of the gate depending on the type of environment in which the gate is operating.

The Standard defines 3 types of use:


     Type 1 - The gate is only used by trained users and there is no intended, inadvertent or unauthorised access to it by members of the public.


     Type 2 - A limited group of persons (for example persons sharing a block of flats) are trained to operate the gate and the gate is located in a public area.


     Type 3 - Any person is free to operate the gate and the gate is in contact with the general public.


The Standard advises on the minimum levels of safeguarding of the main edge according to its type of use.Type 1 gates are not considered further in this safety notice because they are not located in the vicinity of the general public.


In the case of those powered gates categorised as Type 2 or Type 3 and which have automatic control, the advised level of safeguarding is to:


Limit forces according to Annex A of the Standard using force limitation devices or sensitive protective equipment




Provide a means for the detection of the presence of a person or an obstacle standing on the floor at one side of the gate.


Alternatively, a means for detection of the presence a person, which is designed in a way that in no circumstances can that person be touched by the moving gate leaf, can be provided.




In a significant number of gate installations, the type of use may not have been taken into account during the design stage, with the consequence that the installations may not comply with the safeguarding measures recommended in the standard.


Those who manufacture, install, use or have control of powered gates should assess the risk to health and safety posed by the gate(s), in particular the circumstances of the installation. Certain circumstances, such as the gate being located in the vicinity of the general public, would be considered to be high risk.


BS EN 12453:2001 advises that adopting one or a combination of measures including creating safety distances, installing guards, shaping the leaf surfaces, operating the gate in hold to run, limiting the forces and installing sensitive protective equipment will achieve a safe state.


It is HSE's view that the force limitation function on its own is unlikely to be sufficiently reliable to prevent a person being trapped or crushed. In accordance with the recommendations of BS EN 12453:2001, where the force limitation technique is used in Type 2 or Type 3 installations with automatic operation, additional safeguarding techniques should be used to reduce the likelihood of hazardous situations occurring.


In some installations, single or twin photoelectric beams have been used as an additional safeguard. However, analysis of their installation and configuration has shown that these do not guarantee person detection and the prevention of crushing. Whereas photoelectric beams, when suitably installed and configured, are a possible safeguarding option, pressure sensitive strips on the closing edge of the gate are more effective when used in combination with force limitation.


An important consideration with the operation of automatic gates is the emergency arrangements to release someone should a crushing, shearing or drawing-in incident occur and the person remains trapped. Many designs of drive units require the use of a release key and lever to disconnect the drive from the gate and allow it to be moved manually. In such circumstances, access to the release key is critical to the quick release of the gate and so arrangements should be in place to ensure that release keys and release instructions are readily available to all authorised users of the gate.


Action required:


  • All designers and installers of electrically powered gates should ensure that the forces generated by a gate when meeting a person or an obstacle are limited and that they do not exceed the values specified in Annex A of BS EN 12453:2001.

  • These forces should be measured in accordance with BS EN 12445:2001. "Industrial commercial and garage doors and gates. Safety in use of power operated doors. Test methods" and the performance of the system validated before the gate is put into use.

  • Forces should be periodically re-measured and checked as part of the planned preventative maintenance schedule for the gates.In addition to force limitation, additional safeguards, such as pressure sensitive strips on the closing edge and photoelectric sensing devices, should be fitted where the risk assessment identifies the gate as high risk, in that it is operating automatically in a public place where children and other members of the public may be present.

  • Persons or organisations in control of powered gates should periodically review their risk assessments to ensure that they identify any changes to the environment or operating conditions and that they have taken appropriate steps to address them. This is particularly important when the responsibility for management of the gate passes from one person or organisation to another.

  • Other hazards associated with the opening and closing of the gate should also be addressed - these will include crushing, shearing, impact and drawing-in hazards. Examples of other hazard points are described in BS EN 12453: 2001 and include: the opening edge; gaps in the gate where they pass fixed structures; and at the drive mechanism. (Note: force limitation on its own is also unlikely to be sufficient for these hazards).

  • All safety devices and features should be checked on a regular basis and in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions to ensure they continue to function as designed to ensure that safety is maintained. This should be specified in a planned preventative maintenance schedule agreed by persons responsible for the gate's management and their appointed maintenance company.







 Electric Gate Force Pressure Testing ~ Automatic Sliding Gate Force Pressure Testing ~ Automatic Carpark Barrier Impact Force Testing ~ Safety Pressure Tests For Automatic Sliding Gates