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Safety Barrier Comparison 2021

Choosing the right barrier guide, last thing you want is replacing barriers and bad building damage and repairs, or worse, an accident

1. Safety

Visibility

Quite simply, your best defence in a fast moving environment is being seen.

High visibility yellow barriers are critical for for worker and forklift driver safety, especially for protecting warehouse pedestrian walkways

A warehouse manager once said: “High visibility barriers changed our people’s awareness. They have consciously and subconsciously improved habits, which now results in far fewer impacts.”

The high visibility feature heightens awareness and reduces accidental impact damage. You should aim to create a culture of safety first with your employees.

A high-vis yellow guardrail will safely define and restrict pedestrian access to hazardous and dangerous areas.

Steel guardrail protection, assets, buildings, vehicles, heavy duty anti rust, perfect for external use
Visibility
3/5
Steel perimeter barrier for warehouse, this has removable beams for access. Ideal for protecting critical buidling controls, lodaing bay switches, downpipes
Visibility
3/5
Yellow hoop barrier, powder coated safety barrier. Modular cheap solution
Visibility
5/5
Yellow flexible safety barrier, ideal for forklift protection. Certified impact tested
Visibility
5/5

Accidents

Protruding edges, sharp corners, rough steel, chipped powder coat can cause undue harm and injury to personnel. The slightest nick to sensitive skin could mean an infection to the staff member.

reduce worker accidents with plastic barriers, less trip hazard fixings, no sharp corners, keep your people safe

The soft rounded profile that an HDPE flexible barrier offers, is far less likely to cause injury to your people.

Steel guardrail protection, assets, buildings, vehicles, heavy duty anti rust, perfect for external use
Accidents
3/5
Steel perimeter barrier for warehouse, this has removable beams for access. Ideal for protecting critical buidling controls, lodaing bay switches, downpipes
Accidents
3/5
Yellow hoop barrier, powder coated safety barrier. Modular cheap solution
Accidents
4/5
Yellow flexible safety barrier, ideal for forklift protection. Certified impact tested
Accidents
5/5

Protection

“Barrier coverage” describes the surface area a barrier protects. In most countries, the minimum height for safety barriers/guardrails is 900mm from the floor.

How much does protection coverage or safety area does my barrier give my workers? Barrier forks can be very dangerous, HSA reccomends heavy duty barriers for forklift areas

Some barriers have ground level protection beams, some have double level protective beams, and some have a full height (usually up to 1100mm high)

Light duty hoop barriers do not perform well in the case of protection coverage – they are primarily used for delineation, highlighting and restricting access.

Steel crash barrier guardrails fair well in this category. With different posts available, beams can be positioned at different heights, there’s also a handrail add-on. Steel Crash Barrier/Guardrail Guide

HDPE Barriers will give you maximum protection levels, for example, warehouse pedestrian walkways.

Steel guardrail protection, assets, buildings, vehicles, heavy duty anti rust, perfect for external use
Protection
4/5
Steel perimeter barrier for warehouse, this has removable beams for access. Ideal for protecting critical buidling controls, lodaing bay switches, downpipes
Protection
3/5
Yellow hoop barrier, powder coated safety barrier. Modular cheap solution
Protection
1/5
Yellow flexible safety barrier, ideal for forklift protection. Certified impact tested
Protection
5/5

2. Damage & Collisions

Durability

“Durability is the ability to withstand wear, pressure, or damage, without significant deterioration in quality”

How long will my barrier last? Well, that depends on a few external factors.

Which barrier you choose depedns on the area, forklifts need heavy duty, trolleys need light duty. Image shows light duty steel walkway barrier

Steel barriers: Ask yourself, are the barriers galvanised, is it likely to rust, is it powder coated, or painted? How thick, and what grade steel has been used to manufacture the barrier?

Polymer barrier: Stronger than steel and independently tested for impact. Is the product UV stabilised, what life span can I expect? Also, familiarise internal components and design.

As part of your Health and Safety policy, you should implement a regular check on the integrity of the barrier systems. Has there been a major impact? Do you need to replace the system or call your local maintenance team?

Barrier impact test report example excerpt:
“equivalent to an impact from a 6,500 lb [2948 kg] vehicle traveling at 4.5 mph [7.2 km/h]. In testing, the barrier was subjected to higher loadings and further deflections.”

Steel guardrail protection, assets, buildings, vehicles, heavy duty anti rust, perfect for external use
Durability
4/5
Steel perimeter barrier for warehouse, this has removable beams for access. Ideal for protecting critical buidling controls, lodaing bay switches, downpipes
Durability
3/5
Yellow hoop barrier, powder coated safety barrier. Modular cheap solution
Durability
1/5
Yellow flexible safety barrier, ideal for forklift protection. Certified impact tested
Durability
5/5

Vehicle Protection

Forklifts and material handling equipment are an expensive investment, consider the damage a barrier type may inflict on your machinery.

Inexperienced and under-trained forklift operatives are one of the most dangerous hazards to your staff, vehicles and property.

Impacts and accidents are inevitable, therefore selecting a hi-vis polymer safety barrier that doesn’t have acute corners or hard edges will minimise superficial damage to your forklift.

Steel on steel impact = scratches to both vehicle and the barrier.

Image of forklift safely impacting flexible safety barrier, steel barriers would damage your forklift and result in costly repairs
Steel guardrail protection, assets, buildings, vehicles, heavy duty anti rust, perfect for external use
Vehicle Protection
2/5
Steel perimeter barrier for warehouse, this has removable beams for access. Ideal for protecting critical buidling controls, lodaing bay switches, downpipes
Vehicle Protection
3/5
Yellow hoop barrier, powder coated safety barrier. Modular cheap solution
Vehicle Protection
3/5
Yellow flexible safety barrier, ideal for forklift protection. Certified impact tested
Vehicle Protection
5/5

Impacts

Different impact barriers will absorb deflected impacts at varying angles better than others.

When deciding what barrier, assess what traffic, is it pedestrian, forklift or trolley? If forklift traffic route, install a heavy duty barrier

To simplify the impacts that may be happening in your premises, prepare a risk assessment – label the type of impact into light, medium or heavy impact.

  • LIGHT impact is classed as general wear & tear from pedestrian or light goods trollies
  • MEDIUM impact is a stacked pallet truck
  • HEAVY impact is a forklift, van or truck
Steel guardrail protection, assets, buildings, vehicles, heavy duty anti rust, perfect for external use
Deflected & Direct Impacts Defence
4/5
Steel perimeter barrier for warehouse, this has removable beams for access. Ideal for protecting critical buidling controls, lodaing bay switches, downpipes
Deflected & Direct Impacts Defence
3/5
Yellow hoop barrier, powder coated safety barrier. Modular cheap solution
Deflected & Direct Impacts Defence
2/5
Yellow flexible safety barrier, ideal for forklift protection. Certified impact tested
Deflected & Direct Impacts Defence
5/5

3. Upkeep & Hygiene

Maintenance

Maintenance is an integral part of every business.

Is the barrier scratched – can you repaint it with the matching colour?

Do you need to touch up rust spots?

barrier maintenance is costly, repairs, etc. Assign staff to do regiular barrier checks. Is pint it visible, it it loose? Is it safe?

If you choose the latest polymer designs, then a quick wipe of clean damp cloth will drastically cut your maintenance budgets over time and keeps your premises looking newer for longer.

As part of your Health and Safety policy, you should implement a regular check on the integrity of the barrier systems. Has there been a major impact? Do you need to replace the system or call your local maintenance team?

A maintenance manual (O&M manual) should be a key part of your companies safety policy.

Steel guardrail protection, assets, buildings, vehicles, heavy duty anti rust, perfect for external use
Maintenance
3/5
Steel perimeter barrier for warehouse, this has removable beams for access. Ideal for protecting critical buidling controls, lodaing bay switches, downpipes
Maintenance
3/5
Yellow hoop barrier, powder coated safety barrier. Modular cheap solution
Maintenance
2/5
Yellow flexible safety barrier, ideal for forklift protection. Certified impact tested
Maintenance
5/5

Material Types

“Decisions decisions – should I choose a metal barrier or a polymer barrier?”

Ask yourself, will the barrier contribute to your overall health and safety policy.

Barrier material types as follows: PVC, HDPE flexible, steel galvanised, powder coated steel

Polymer HDPE Barriers are the preferred option especially where hygiene is at the forefront eg. pharmaceuticals, food & drink processing, healthcare, cosmetic manufacturing industries to name a few.

Contamination is a constant worry, so pick a product that is easy to keep clean.

Traditional metal barriers may have slight corrosion, starting to chip (flaky paint), and often get overlooked if a regular cleaning schedule is not maintained.

Steel guardrail protection, assets, buildings, vehicles, heavy duty anti rust, perfect for external use
Material
3/5
Steel perimeter barrier for warehouse, this has removable beams for access. Ideal for protecting critical buidling controls, lodaing bay switches, downpipes
Material
3/5
Yellow hoop barrier, powder coated safety barrier. Modular cheap solution
Material
4/5
Yellow flexible safety barrier, ideal for forklift protection. Certified impact tested
Material
5/5

Building & General Repairs

Heavy duty impacts will likely ‘rip up’ your floor.
Industrial grade floors are extremely expensive to install and expensive to repair (1sqm could cost up to €1,000)

Floor damage is common after a heavy duty barrier impact like a forklift hit, get floor protecting barriers

With this in mind, consider which barrier system is least likely to damage your floor following impact, and least likely to cost you unforeseen repair costs.

An incorrectly placed barrier is a serious subject, a collapsed wall or pallet rack could potentially be fatal, make sure this doesn’t happen.

Steel guardrail protection, assets, buildings, vehicles, heavy duty anti rust, perfect for external use
Floor Protection
3/5
Steel perimeter barrier for warehouse, this has removable beams for access. Ideal for protecting critical buidling controls, lodaing bay switches, downpipes
Floor Protection
3/5
Yellow hoop barrier, powder coated safety barrier. Modular cheap solution
Floor Protection
3/5
Yellow flexible safety barrier, ideal for forklift protection. Certified impact tested
Floor Protection
5/5

4. Installation

Difficulty

How difficult is it to install a Safety Barrier?
Naturally, this is heavily dictated by experience and training.

If you are familiar with power tools and can follow instructions, most maintenance persons can install a barrier without too much difficulty.

Installing safety barriers can be tricky. The qustions are, do you have the power tools, experience and training?

Considerations:
If I’m installing a steel barrier – how heavy it is? Do I need more than 1 person to assist in manoeuvring the material?

Should I use a ‘bolt down’ fixture, or invest in a ‘cast in’ option…

What is the substrate type? Is the substrate in good condition. Are there underlying services to be aware of.

Do I have the required power tools, if I don’t, how much will it cost to hire or purchase new ones? Do I need specialist equipment – do I need a cert to use specialist equipment.

Steel guardrail protection, assets, buildings, vehicles, heavy duty anti rust, perfect for external use
Ease Of Install
1/5
Steel perimeter barrier for warehouse, this has removable beams for access. Ideal for protecting critical buidling controls, lodaing bay switches, downpipes
Ease Of Install
4/5
Yellow hoop barrier, powder coated safety barrier. Modular cheap solution
Ease Of Install
5/5
Yellow flexible safety barrier, ideal for forklift protection. Certified impact tested
Ease Of Install
2/5

Creating Perimeters

A Standard Metal Hoop Barrier is not usually considered modular – as it is usually fabricated in single units. Add on mods are generally installed ‘side by side’.

The graphic below shows a modular forklift barrier protecting an extra-large warehouse structural column where a standard column guard wouldn’t fit. 

Modular barriers basically accomodate and space or perimeter as you so please, extra large columns need modular barriers as standard column protection doesn't fit

“Modular – constructed with standardised units or dimensions for flexibility and variety in use”

Both the heavy-duty crash barrier and the polymer barriers are considered modular. You can adjust the lengths required during installation. There are accessories available to create bends, returns and terminal ends.

Steel guardrail protection, assets, buildings, vehicles, heavy duty anti rust, perfect for external use
Modular
3/5
Steel perimeter barrier for warehouse, this has removable beams for access. Ideal for protecting critical buidling controls, lodaing bay switches, downpipes
Modular
3/5
Yellow hoop barrier, powder coated safety barrier. Modular cheap solution
Modular
1/5
Yellow flexible safety barrier, ideal for forklift protection. Certified impact tested
Modular
4/5

Removability

Can I re-use and relocate an existing barrier if I decide to re-organise my premises.
What fixings / installation has been used. Will my floor be ok if I relocate a barrier?

Choose a removable barrier that lends itself to future relocation, over a static solid option.

Removing or relocating a barrier can be tough. What installation type, what anchor type? Do you have power tools? Will the floor break, can I repair it?

In the pharmaceutical industry, warehouse space is often downsized to make room for new laboratory space. Laboratory space is more profitable.

Steel guardrail protection, assets, buildings, vehicles, heavy duty anti rust, perfect for external use
Removability
2/5
Steel perimeter barrier for warehouse, this has removable beams for access. Ideal for protecting critical buidling controls, lodaing bay switches, downpipes
Removability
3/5
Yellow hoop barrier, powder coated safety barrier. Modular cheap solution
Removability
4/5
Yellow flexible safety barrier, ideal for forklift protection. Certified impact tested
Removability
5/5

5. Conclusion & Price Range

In conclusion, check out the barrier assessment cheat sheet below, this will give you an understanding of when to use what barrier type where.

Remember, safety is paramount in every business, and barriers are just the tip of the iceberg but why not start here.

Author notes: Regardless of which barrier you choose, the ultimate performance is determined by the adequacy of the surrounding ground.

If you are implementing a full warehouse safety policy, you should always perform a Risk Assessment and consult a professional safety expert.
This content is provided for informational and guidance purposes only.

Barrier Assessment Cheat Sheet

Armco barrier end cap protecting pedestrians from sharp edges in a warehouse. End cap supplier, for sale in Ireland.

Heavy Duty Crash Barrier

Material: Plain galvanised steel 3mm

Price Range: Budget – Mid

Application: Car parks, service yards, perimeter protection, rack ends

Warehouse protection barrier/yellow steel guard in a warehouse, walkway perimeters, machine guard, delineate workers, safety zone

Yellow Hoop Barrier

Material: Mild steel, powder coated

Price Range: Budget – Mid

Application: Delineation, light-duty impacts

Steel warehouse barrier for protecting switchboards and electrical controls in ireland

Galvanised Steel Access Barrier

Material: Galvanised & powder coated

Price Range: Budget-Mid

Application: Mechanical & electrical control protection (e.g loading bay switches, downpipes, etc)

Warehouse protection barrier_ireland being tested by forklift impact

Polymer Flexible Barrier

Material: Polymer with iron core and rubber damper floor protection technology

Price Range: High-end Certified

Application: Suited to almost every aspect of your premises that requires heavy-duty protection and the utmost safety

Need exact prices or barrier advice?

Picture of staff bollard suppliers in Dublin warehouse