By PAT EVANS
Do the automatic gates on your property meet the current safety standards? Unfortunately, most automatic gates do not. It’s estimated that three-out-of-four existing automatic gate systems lack the latest safety features and should be replaced or updated to meet the current standards.
All manufacturers of gate operators and related entrapment protection devices work closely with organizations such as Underwriters Laboratories (a global independent safety science company dedicated to promoting safe living and working environments) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (a federal organization charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death). These organizations improve standards for entrapment protection in residential and commercial garage door openers and automatic gates.
To ensure residents are as safe as possible, Underwriters Laboratories updated its safety standards for automatic gates, known as UL 325, in 2016. The standards require that in addition to safety devices such as photo eyes and/or sensing edges, gate operators bearing the UL Label must stop working if the safety devices are not functioning properly. As a result, many manufacturers have updated entire product lines to meet and exceed these safety standards.
Dawn Marshall, a community association manager at FirstService Residential, who currently manages 10 properties in the Las Vegas area noted that, “Standards like UL 325 are extremely important for gated communities, and are needed to ensure safety. It’s critical to have an understanding of how to stay current on the latest safety and security regulations.”
There are three things community association boards and managers should ensure they understand about the latest changes to gate safety:
Be compliant. Gate operators manufactured beginning in 2016 need to meet the new Underwriters Laboratories’ UL 325 Safety Standards. If the automatic gates in your community do not have the proper safety equipment, consider asking a professional installer to add the proper safety entrapment protection or to replace them with the latest models and safety entrapment protection devices.
What does this mean to you?
All compliant gate systems must have two independent safety entrapment protection devices installed at each entrapment zone that will stop the operator from working if they are not functioning properly.
Two examples of independent entrapment protection devices include:
- An operator with an inherent reversing system
- External monitored photo eyes and/or edge sensors
Make sure installation and maintenance are performed by professionals. It is recommended that automatic gates and access systems should be professionally installed by a safety-trained dealer and inspected regularly. A crucial part of your job involves keeping your community as safe as possible. Work with a professional to ensure that your gate access systems are designed, installed and maintained in accordance with UL 325 and ASTM F2200 Safety Standards. This will reduce your liability risk. Additionally, gate operators should only be installed on gates used for vehicle traffic. A separate pedestrian entry/exit must be clearly visible to promote pedestrian usage.
Maximize safety and security. Gate operators should also feature a battery backup system, so the gate will continue to operate properly in all conditions, even when the power is out. Internet connectivity is also an important way to increase security. This allows both residents and association managers to monitor and control gates remotely through a smartphone app.
- Check for two monitored, independent means of protection properly installed at each entrapment zone. These include monitored photo eyes and sensing edges.
- For slide gates, ensure that picket spacing is no more than 2.25 inches to prevent people from reaching through or passing through a gate.
- Measure the distance between user controls and the gate. It should be at least 6 feet.
With these helpful tips, you can begin to make gate safety a priority and ensure your community is compliant, safe and functional.
Pat Evans is a marketing manager of gate operators with LiftMaster.