Roadside barriers: Choosing between concrete, plastic and MASS safety varieties

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A tech writer specialising in cybersecurity, working with Redscan on this and a number of other GDPR, MDR, and ethical hacking projects.
October 24, 2018

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A Barbour guide to business continuity

Wherever vehicles and pedestrians are in close proximity to one another, safety should be a top priority – especially so given vehicles have been weaponised so effectively by terrorists.

Roadside barriers are an essential part of road safety strategy, but with so many to choose from, how do you know which type is the best for your site?

Concrete barriers

Concrete barriers are extremely durable, offering a robust way to direct traffic, prevent collisions and obstruct vehicular access to certain sections of your site. They are extremely difficult to move (typically requiring specialist equipment or, at the very least, a forklift) making them ideal for use as a long-term barrier.

If you need to defend your site against theft, fly tipping or traveller invasions, a barrier of concrete blocks will make it impossible to get vehicles in or out.

There are a variety of concrete barrier types available, so if you think this is the solution you need, here are some of your options:


Temporary Vertical Concrete Barriers (TVCBs) are a long, low-height, heavy-duty barrier. Their dimensions make them an efficient choice for large spaces, such as carparks or stretches of road.

‘Lego’ blocks

Concrete ‘Lego’ blocks are designed to interlock, allowing them to be stacked upwards to create a taller barrier. This makes them suitable for demanding roadside environments, where they can act as a retaining wall for earth or aggregate to keep the road clear of debris. These blocks have an integrated lifting pin, making them easy to manoeuvre with a crane and hook.

Other uses for these blocks include:

  • Barrier to temporary construction works
  • Temporary flood barriers
  • Supporting walls for long-term structures
  • Silage or grain storage
  • Bay walls that can withstand heavy impact

Concrete with mesh or hoarding panels

Where you need to manage both traffic and crowd control, hoardings or mesh fencing with a concrete base is an excellent option. The concrete foot is impact-resistant and serves as a defence against traffic collisions, and taller panels are then inserted to prevent the barrier from being climbed over.

Adding a mesh fence will allow pedestrians to see through the barrier, which might be beneficial from a safety perspective or simply for a more “open” aesthetic. Hoardings can make pathways seem more enclosed, but provide privacy for one or both sides. If you are shielding a worksite where expensive equipment is potentially operating (that you are concerned may be vulnerable to theft), these solid panels are a good choice.

Plastic barriers

Although plastic barriers cannot offer the same level of impact protection as a reinforced concrete barrier, they still provide a good barrier at the roadside. The lightweight material means that plastic barriers are much easier to transport and position, but most styles are designed to be filled with water or sand once in-situ, making them much harder to move. For this reason, plastic barriers are the most versatile option for temporary roadside barriers, particularly in slow-moving traffic and where pedestrians will not be stood close to the barrier.

If a plastic barrier seems to be more appropriate for your needs, here are some of the designs to consider:

Water-filled barriers

Water-filled barriers come in small sections that are easy to carry and stack when empty. Once in position, they’re easy to fill part-way or completely to provide a higher-strength barrier as required.

“Water-filled barriers are the modern solution to erecting safety barriers easily and quickly. Lightweight when unfilled, and easily stackable too, they’re easy to transport to sites and can be filled in situ as needed.” Maltaward Barriers Ltd

These are commonly used at roadside construction sites, offering a highly-visible barrier that offers some resistance to collision. The interlocking design means that they can be positioned to create an unbroken barrier along straight roads or curves.

EVO road barriers

EVO Road Barriers offer a similar level of flexibility as they are also comprised of interlocking panels that create a single, unbroken barrier chain. These sections also stack, making them easy to store and transport in bulk. EVO Road Barriers are available in two heights; 1m and 1.5m. Hoardings or mesh panels can be added for greater height to prevent pedestrians from climbing over.

Euro road barriers

Euro Road Barriers are another popular option, available in longer sections to cover larger areas more effectively. These barriers are also designed to be filled with sand or water as ballast, creating a heavy-duty system that offers good protection between busy roads and pedestrian areas. Mesh panels and reflective panels can be added to the top for added height and greater visibility as required.

Mass safety barriers (image: Safe Site Facilities)

MASS safety barriers

Finally, there are MASS (Multi Applicational Safety System) Barriers. These are a lightweight option, like plastic, made from steel, which makes them durable, like concrete. Kept in place by vertical pins, MASS barriers are stable, wind-resistant and designed to deflect traffic back onto the road.

MASS barriers are a popular roadside option that you will see in all kinds of locations across the UK, from temporary road dividers, event traffic management and roadworks protection. In addition to the steel base unit, you can add mesh pedestrian guards, high visibility handrails and full-height “siteguards” and “screen guards” to prevent unauthorised access to any given area.

If you’re in charge of maintaining safety at any event or location where traffic and pedestrians will be in close proximity, barriers are an essential part of the system. Whether your requirements are temporary or permanent, there’s the perfect barrier for the job.

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Taylor Bishop
Taylor Bishop
January 11, 2019 1:13 pm

Thank you for helping me learn about different types of roadside barriers. It’s good to know that the concrete foot is impact-resistant and can help against traffic collisions. This seems very important for faster roads that are closer, especially if it can keep one side contained from the other.