Every event will have a requirement for some amount of fencing, whether it’s to manage queues, restrict access to certain areas, or create a barrier between pedestrians and vehicles. In order to keep your site running safely and effectively, choosing the right type of fencing for the job is essential.
With a huge variety of metal railings, plastic barriers, and concrete blocks available to buy and hire, it can be difficult to know how to choose the best type of fencing for the job. Here are four key questions that can help you decide.
Let’s start with the basics: What does the barrier need to achieve? Security? Privacy? Access limitation?
If you’re trying to shield a private area from view or prevent people from climbing over, you’re going to need a 10-foot fence that’s either solid or covered with a hoarding. A VIP-style setup might not need the opaque fencing - you might prefer for regular ticket-holders to see what a little extra spending could buy them for your next event. Still, you will want an anti-climb fence and security personnel manning the entrance.
Slimline fencing designs are best for pedestrian areas, maximising the floor space available afor the crowd while making it clear where people can and can’t stand. Post-type barriers (like retractable Tensa ones) are fine for well-behaved queues but won’t physically prevent people from ducking under them to cut lines. Metal railings may be more effective in this situation, although particularly rowdy or dense crowds – like those at concerts or festivals – should be protected with a stage barrier, or pit barrier. These can be identified by their footplate (which the audience stands on to increase stability) and the step on the non-crowd side.
For safety purposes, concrete blocks are the most robust option, particularly where vehicles are involved. Although they are generally too low to prevent pedestrian access into an area, their durable design keeps traffic in the designated area and can withstand vehicle impact in the event of an accident. There are many variations of concrete barrier available, ideal for carparks, event perimeters, and road safety (see Maltaward for their full barrier range).
Terrain plays a big part in the stability of any barrier. Positioning fences on a flat concrete carpark on a sunny day will be a very different experience from managing barriers in a sloping, muddy field. Carefully consider the ground conditions and whether they create a risk of your barrier falling over. If in doubt, choose a barrier with a large surface area at the bottom.
The setting of your fencing may influence the type of barrier you choose, too. For example, bulky concrete blocks might spoil the aesthetic of an otherwise picturesque setting, while velvet rope is going to look very out of place in a carpark. Of course, functionality is going to be the main factor in your barrier choice, but don’t forget about its context, too.
Generally speaking, the shorter the duration of your event, the less time you want to spend setting up boundaries and barriers. Lightweight barrier options - such as metal railings and water-filled or sand-filled plastic barriers - can be installed quickly, moved with ease, and dismantled just as fast. Once filled, they will still require a substantial effort to move, however, acting as a suitable blockade for most instances.
On the other hand, an ongoing security issue or crowd control at a longer-term event may warrant the reliability of concrete barriers. Although they might take longer to install (and be harder to reposition), this comes with the benefit of not having to worry about them being moved or tampered with like you would a less-robust fence.
No matter what the timeline of your event is, it’s still important to choose a barrier that is up to the job. If you need the durability and protection of a concrete block, even for a few days, it’s better to err on the side of caution than pick a lightweight barrier that puts people at risk.
Finally, consider the logistics of your barriers. If it’s only a small venue or you’re working with limited budget, installing fencing that can be moved by manpower alone is a good idea. This is another situation where water-filled barriers and metal fencing can be useful.
Sturdier options, such as Jersey blocks can be moved around with a small forklift truck, which is relatively easy to hire for the days that you’re setting up and breaking down your event. Certain barriers – like solid concrete blocks – are going to require more specialist equipment to lower into place. Look into renting a lorry-mounted crane and hiring an operator to help you.
Planning the type of barrier at your even might not be high on the list of exciting decisions to make, but it is near the top of important safety considerations. Whatever your event is, there’s no reason to put the safety of your staff and guests at risk.
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