Garage Door Safety: That Was Then, This Is Now

Garage Door Safety: That Was Then, This Is Now

The history of garage door safety regulations, as with many industries, begins at a low level in the 1970s and remained at a weak level of consumer protection until the early 1990s. There were a total of 54 deaths of young children pinned to the pavement by descending automatic garage doors (referred to, somewhat neutrally, as “entrapment”) over an eight-year span ending in 1990, with many more injured. As we approach and enter Annual Garage Door Safety Month, this one statistic provides a sobering reminder of what was then, and a reason to be glad for what we may take for granted today.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at that point stepped up and enacted measures that would better ensure garage door safety. Though the technology for safety features to prevent entrapment had been developed, There were no enforceable requirements for manufacturers to actually produce doors that included them.

The turning point was January 1,1993 when safety requirements, passed into law through the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 1990, officially took effect. This law included automatic garage door manufacturing mandates that formalized the new safety standards. The following list outlines the changes, now if effect for 15 years.

  • All doors manufactured from that date on had to undergo testing and stringently comply with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Standard for Safety, UL 325. (These standards have been periodically revised by UL. The recent 6th edition safety standards took effect for all garage doors manufactured after 2015.)
  • All garage doors must now have either a photo eye or a “constant contact” button, both of which automatically provide safe operation, as described below.
  • The electric or photo eye produces an infrared beam that constantly scans the full width of the door’s threshold. If that beam is interrupted, it automatically and immediately halts the door’s descent. The better door systems will reverse the door’s motion and return it to its fully-open state.
  • The constant contact button, as a less expensive but also less satisfactory alternative, requires the human operator to both press and firmly hold down the button (such as a remote, or a keypad installed adjacent to the garage door) to close it. If the button isn’t continuously pressed, the door will instantly freeze its descent and reverse back to its fully open position, allowing you to avoid injury to someone passing under the door, or damage to items, such as a bike or a bag of groceries, left in the door’s path. You can open the door by the usual press and release method, but need to maintain pressure on the button to close it.
  • All automatic garage door openers must display an easily readable warning label informing users of the potential entrapment risk. This notice should be permanently posted, near eye level, next to the garage door opening system.
  • Manufacturers of garage door openers are required by law to register their products and maintain accurate records. They must be able to demonstrate that their products maintain the latest UL safety standards.

These innovative 1993 regulations provided a dramatic improvement in garage door safety standards over those of previous decades. Consumers now recognize the value of these features, and they are an important part of door and opener purchase decisions. The technologies (especially now with the advent of “smart doors” and operating systems) are under constant refinement and competitive improvements in performance. The majority of new garage door models use advanced, refined photo eyes that are more reliable and optically sensitive that the earlier versions. If you have a garage door and/or door opener near 15 years in age or older, we urge you to call us about updating and upgrading. If you have an older system that predates these safety technologies, don’t procrastinate – call Automatic Door Specialists for an appointment, or stop by our showroom to discuss garage door safety with one of our specialists.

Automatic Door Specialists – ADS – understands that safeguarding you and your family (and your four-footed companions) is the most important service we provide. We’ve built our business over four decades one installation, one repair, one satisfied customer at a time. If you value the added peace of mind that comes with a scheduled inspection and service plan, ask us about our Annual Door Service Plan (ADS Plan). Call 858-450-0389, or use the Contact Us page on this website.

*As reported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission