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The management of the process for the maintenance of industrial doors, garage doors & powered gates


The management of the process for the maintenance of industrial doors, garage doors, powered gates and barriers can be a complex and confusing process, with legal ramifications for the maintenance provider and the owner or manager of the system in question. Steve Hill, Senior Training & Compliance Officer at Door & Hardware Federation (DHF) offers clarity in a complicated area.

/media/news/library/steve.jpg“The first question will often be what constitutes a safe system?” explains Steve. “There is a common misconception that if a system was compliant on the day of installation, then it will always be compliant, unless it is modified.”

Indeed, serious criminal prosecutions within the industry have revealed that this is not the case, and that the test of compliance (reasonably practicable measures in health & safety law) needs to consider the requirements in the current standards relating to the specific product being maintained.

The legal position of owners/managers and the maintenance contractor is also another area of confusion and can be explained thus:
“Most owner/managers (except domestic owners) have a legal obligation under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure that any systems under their control are safe for anybody who may encounter them, their own employees and any visitors or members of the public on their premises,” continues Steve. “A further requirement exists for owners and managers at workplaces, under the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992, Regulations 5 & 18 to ensure that doors and gates in the workplace are safely maintained, with specific requirements regarding anti fall-back protection on vertically moving doors amongst other safety factors.

“The maintenance contractor has a requirement under the Electricity at Work Regulations to isolate the system for maintenance. There is also a requirement under the Health & Safety at Work Act to ensure that they leave any systems on which they have worked in a safe condition. If they found safety concerns on a system under maintenance, they should not return that door, gate or barrier to service.”

In managing the process from the maintainer’s perspective, DHF recommends the following four-step process:

1. Before going to site, the maintenance contractor must explain to the client that, as a duty of care to themselves, the system must be taken out of service for initial electrical and structural safety checks prior to the actual work or assessment process. If, during maintenance or assessment work, the system proves to be below an acceptable standard of safety, it will not be put back into service by the maintenance contractor.

2. Once on site, the maintenance contractor must assess the system for safety before starting work, in so far as is possible in its current condition. The maintenance contractor must also assess the extent of the work requested to be done by the system manager in terms of its likely impact on the safety of the system. If step two reveals that the system will be safe on completion of the proposed work, then the maintenance contractor can continue with the contracted work. However, if step two reveals that the proposed work may not result in a safe system, the following applies:
i) The maintenance contractor must explain all the remaining hazards to the system manager.
ii) The maintenance contractor must also explain to the system manager what additional work (if any) might be necessary to properly diagnose the hazards; it may prove necessary to replace or adjust drive units, control boards, hinges or rolling gear, etc. before a complete assessment is possible.
iii) The maintenance contractor must inform the system manager in writing of the necessary measures to make the system safe.

3. The maintenance contractor must then request clearance from the system manager to complete both the contracted work and the required safety upgrade work. If the system manager requires that the maintenance contractor completes only the contracted or diagnostic work (some client organisational, procurement, tendering or contractual issues may dictate this), the maintenance contractor must not put the system back into service on completion if it has safety critical defects following completion of the work. They must explain to the system manager how it has been made safe (e.g., explain where the switch is or how it has been secured against collapse). In this case, it would be reasonable for the contractor to assume that the required safety upgrade work is intended to be undertaken later. The contractor should also inform the system manager in writing, (DHF recommends using an unsafe system notice) that there could be legal consequences for them in the event of an incident involving the system if it is returned to service in its current state.

4. If, on a subsequent visit, the maintenance contractor finds the system is still in service in an unsafe condition, the process must be repeated and the system manager re-informed in writing of the potential hazards and of the potential consequences. The maintenance contractor must not be the person who puts the system back into service in an unsafe condition at any stage.

“Following this, the only reason that an unsafe system will be in service is that the owner/manager has elected to keep it in service,” says Steve. “This may be in response to other security or safeguarding legal responsibilities that they may have, but it should be at their own volition and responsibility. The maintenance contractor has a responsibility to work safely, inform the client accurately as well as offering solutions, and to always leave a system in a safe condition. It is important to note that in the event of an investigation following an incident involving a system, any contractor who has worked on the system in question needs to be able to answer the following question: What did you do to prevent the incident?”

Further information on this subject, including guidance for system owners and managers can be found on the DHF website:

3rd April 2023


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Door & Hardware Federation, The Barn, Shuttington Fields Farm, Main Road, Shuttington, Tamworth, B79 0HA
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