Mike Sopp describes how, to meet their legal obligations, those responsible for premises where power-operated pedestrian doors are located should ensure they are appropriately designed, installed, operated and maintained to reduce risks to as low as reasonably practicable.

Hazards and high-profile incidents involving automated powered gates are well documented, with significant guidance available on how to control the risks associated with their design, use and operation.

However, many workplaces also have power-operated pedestrian doors, often in high-activity areas. While these are convenient for both occupiers and visitors alike, these automatic doors can present hazards that, if not controlled, can result in risks to those using them.

Hazards from automatic doors

A power-operated door is defined in BS EN 16005:2012 Power Operated Pedestrian Doorsets. Safety in Use. Requirements and Test Methods as a “doorset for pedestrian passage only with one or more leaves that is moved, at least in one direction, by an external energy supply (eg electrically) instead of manual or stored mechanical energy”.

Within the scope of this definition are power-operated pedestrian sliding, swing and revolving doorsets, including balanced doorsets and folding doorsets with a horizontally moving leaf.

The key hazard points associated with such doors can be summarised as follows.

  • Automatic sliding doors: where the two leaves come together, and at the two closing edges.

  • Automatic swing doors: where the door closes into the frame and the secondary closing edge where the door pivots.

  • Automatic folding door: where the leaves come together, the main closing edge and where the door folds, the secondary closing edge, tripping and congestion.

  • Revolving doors: several potential danger points due to the number of closing edges.

It should be noted that tripping and congestion are a hazard for all types but that the “slot” at the top of automatic sliding doors where the operator is located is not deemed a hazard because of its height above floor level. Any injury caused from touching the door here would be classed as an intentional act.

Legal requirements around power-operated doors

Regulation 18 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that “doors and gates shall be suitably constructed (including being fitted with any necessary safety devices)”.

This regulation further states that, to comply with this general requirement, any powered door or gate must have “suitable and effective features to prevent it causing injury by trapping any person” and “can be operated manually unless it opens automatically if the power fails”.

Under regulation 5 of the Workplace Regulations there is also a duty to maintain the workplace including “equipment and devices, a fault in which is liable to result in a failure to comply with any of these regulations”. This would include any power-operated pedestrian doors.

Design and installation

Guidance to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 notes that any new powered doors (including situations where existing manually operated doors are fitted with powered actuators) must meet the requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008.

Key requirements are that manufacturers undertake an assessment to identify health and safety hazards and associated risks, eliminate significant risks (where possible), provide safeguards (where risks cannot be eliminated) and provide information on residual risks.

Manufacturers will normally make reference to the relevant British and European standards to achieve these objectives: these being BS 7036-0: 2014 and BS EN 16005.

The former provides a means of undertaking a risk assessment “with a view to safeguarding users against the risk of injury and accidents”. Of note, the standard is intended to be used by not only designers, suppliers, installers and specifiers but also by occupiers, property owners and duty holders.

BS 7036 recommends that at the design specification stage, the specifier should ensure that:

  • they liaise with the manufacturers/distributers, relevant authorities and, where necessary, seek specialist advice

  • user characteristics are established along with operational requirements (eg footfall, vulnerable users, etc)

  • appropriate safety devices and measures are chosen taking account of unacceptable residual risks.

In terms of installation planning, the standard recommends that doors should be sited to ensure they are visible and have sufficient space to accommodate footfall and that ramped floors should be avoided.

The focus of BS EN 16005 is on the safety requirements and protective measures that can be adopted. Clearly these will be door specific, but the general requirement is that power operated pedestrian doorsets are “designed so that hazards due to crushing, shearing, impact and drawing-in during the opening and closing cycles are avoided or so that safeguards against such hazards are provided”. BS EN 16005 then describes in detail the measures that can be taken.

Safe use and maintenance

BS 7036 recommends that the installation and commissioning of automatic doors should be “carried out by a competent person or professional installation technician” and that “all safety functions and systems should be verified and recorded in the log book in accordance with BS EN 16005”.

This should include the display of any necessary warning signs/notices as detailed in the respective standards.

The provision of user information by the manufacturer is a key aspect of BS EN 16005, with an instruction manual being recommended that should detail the operation, maintenance and inspection requirements.

The documentation provided should also include a description of danger points, the appropriate protective devices and residual risks along with all the necessary warning, advisory or cautionary notices.

Any user instructions provided should include:

  • correct operating methods and restrictions on use

  • explanation of the warning signs

  • information on the use of any manual/emergency release mechanisms

  • operational environmental conditions and associated warnings.

BS EN 16005 also notes that documentation should contain information on prohibited use, such as dashing through a closing doorset. Further to this, BS 7036 recommends that where appropriate, “staff should be trained in the use of power operated doors” to enable them, for example, to advise/help parents and their children, the elderly, infirm and disabled people and to take appropriate action in an emergency.

As with any piece of work equipment, components including safety devices, will be subject to wear and tear in operation. BS 7036 recommends that the installation and its environment should be subjected to “systematic operational checks as often as is appropriate to the type of installation and its traffic flow, as detailed in the log book”.

Doors (and the associated protective devices) will also need routine maintenance and inspection in accordance with the manufacturer’s specification by a competent person. This should detail the frequency of such maintenance (the recommended frequency for checking the correct operation of safety function and devices is, at least, once a year).

All maintenance records should be retained in the log book for the power operated pedestrian doors.

How to ensure the safety of power-operated doors

  • Power operated pedestrian doors, to reduce the hazards should be specified, designed and installed with a view to their specific use.

  • Specifiers, operators and manufacturers/suppliers need to work in conjunction to ensure safety devices are appropriate for the operating conditions.

  • Once installed and commissioned by a competent person, those with responsibility for the use and maintenance of the doors should be provided with the necessary information.

  • No entry, keep clear, direction of travel, emergency breakout and automatic door signage may be required as part of the installation.

  • Operating instructions should be integrated into a risk assessment for the doors as part of the overall control of hazards.

  • Local operational checks will be detailed in the log book and could include checks on activators, sensing devices, barriers, delay devices and signage.

  • Regular maintenance in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines should be undertaken by a competent person and findings included in the log book.

  • The log book should contain the manufacturer’s and installer’s contact details, identification of safety/protective devices, instructions for use, maintenance requirements, details of maintenance/upgrades, etc and details of the responsible person.

Further information

  • BS 7036-0:2104 Power Operated Pedestrian Doorsets. Safety in Use. Code of Practice for Risk Assessment and Risk Reduction

  • BS EN 16005:2012 Power Operated Pedestrian Doorsets. Safety in Use. Requirements and Test Methods

  • BS EN ISO 12100:2010 Safety of Machinery. General Principles for Design. Risk Assessment and Risk Reduction

Last reviewed 12 August 2019