Coates Hire’s road safety barrier fleet is expanding, and that means a new training scheme for employees.
With so many road-related civil projects under way around Australia, there has been an increasing demand for road safety barriers, which keep site workers safe while creating minimum damage to vehicles or injury to drivers.
While Coates Hire has been at the forefront of safety barrier hire and installation, the current growth has been in a steel deflection system called BG800. Demand is strong because it is lighter than the traditional concrete barriers meaning more can be transported on a single transport truck. The strength of BG800 is that when a vehicle hits it from a certain angle, the barrier will deflect, rather than break, creating greater safety for the workers behind it. Its deflection capabilities are so good that it can protect roads with speed limits up to 100 km/h, while concrete barriers are typically limited to 80 km/h.
However, the BG800 system requires more engineering calculations to ensure installation is fit for purpose, says Andre Garrido, National Segment Manager – Services. BG800 also requires skilled crews to make sure the pinning into the road, and the joining of the sections, will support their intended use, and that the terminals at either ends of the barrier are of a type that supports the required deflection. These installations – more complex than concrete barriers – also have to be performed at a speed that is economic for the construction company.
For this reason Coates Hire is training approximately 30 employees this year in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland to manage the hire and installation of BG800 barriers.
“We’re working with Highway Care, the British company that manufactures the product,” says Garrido. “We trained seven people in February and we’re rolling out the training around the country, across the business unit. We want the skills spread around.”
Garrido says the day-long course conducted by Highway Care concentrates on loading, transporting, unloading and installation. It also covers removal of the barriers, which requires a skilled approach because the BG800 sections have to be unbolted without damaging the product, and the pins that hold it into the asphalt and concrete have to be removed without damaging the road surface or the barrier.
Garrido says a proper installation of the BG800 system specifies the number, frequency and length of pins into the road surface, strict bolting techniques to join sections, and decisions about using concrete or plastic terminals to anchor the barrier.
“Every installation has to comply with the state transport regulations which means the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) standards, or the new Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) standards. There has to be a minimum safety zone between the barrier and the work zone, and there’s certain types of surface the barriers can be used on.”
He says the barriers are heavily regulated and inspected, and the construction companies can not afford the time delay if sections have to be re-installed.
“We are the primary partner for Highway Care in Australia, and we have had a close working relationship with them since 2010,” says Garrido. “So Coates Hire is already the acknowledged expert in BG800 but with the growing demand and the increase in our fleet size, we need more people who are trained so they can expertly manage and supervise the installations.”