How safe is your garage door? Would it stop and reverse if it hit an object such as a cat, dog or small child?

Rodger Bowring, country manager of Chamberlain New Zealand which supplies garage door openers and started in New Zealand in 1982, said new safety regulations came into force last week.

He cited serious issues in the sector and an Australian case where a child was hit by a garage door and subsequently died.

Pets had also been fatally hit by garage doors which failed to reverse, he said.


An automatic garage door opener product was recalled last decade and since then, Chamberlain said there had been calls for tougher regulations.

"We want the industry cleaned up. We believe there could be a serious accident soon so this is about prevention. It is an issue, in residential, commercial and industrial. We know of installers who have been injured quite seriously. The new regulations are just the first step," he said.

"We have all sorts of safety standards in the building sector but the garage door sector is left alone. The products we install can be life threatening," he said.

Bowring said that Crown agency WorkSafe NZ had stipulated from May 4 that all residential garage door openers would be declared medium level risk articles under new adjustments to the New Zealand Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010.

One electrician confirmed the changes.

"Anything connected to power requires a declaration of conformity and that includes lights, plugs, etc," he said.

Bowring, whose business sells Merlin products, said all new garage doors which have electrical or automatic openers will now need to be sold with a supplier declaration of conformity and evidence of compliance to the relevant safety standard, he said.

"Naturally, many people assume all garage door openers bought in New Zealand are compliant with New Zealand safety standards. However, this is not always the case.

Consumers looking to purchase a new garage opener need to be wary of unsafe imports, as they may not meet the required standards. When it comes to safety, prevention is best. "Our simple advice to homeowners is, if you want peace of mind that your garage door opener is compliant - make sure it carries the declaration of conformity," Bowring said.

People unsure about whether their existing garage door is safe should check whether the door meets the safety reversal check. That means that if the door comes into contact with an obstruction, it should automatically reverse back up within 0.75 of a second and less than 40kgs of force, Bowring said.

They should also look for a label that states the manufacturer name and details, check there is a declaration of conformity and find evidence of compliance to the relevant safety standard.

An object 40mm tall, equivalent to the size of matchbox, should be enough to stop the door, he said.