The most common type of Vehicle Restraint System (VRS) seen on UK Highways are steel beams mounted on steel posts which are driven into the ground or set in concrete foundations
These barriers are frequently damaged requiring repair or removal.
Post removal is a very high risk activity and each year we carry out over 2,000 safety barrier accident damaged repairs; extracting 8,000 posts.
Safe removal of the posts is traditionally achieved through a mixture of methods and machinery, including lorry-mounted cranes and chains and clamps which are not specifically designed for this purpose. A number of serious incidents have occurred highlighting the hazard associated with these methods.
A safety improvement group developed full understanding of the current industry approach and explored a range of alternative methods with the aim of achieving a safe, efficient and economical solution that would benefit the whole industry.
Extensive trials took place in collaboration with PostPullers (UK) and a prototype Barrier Master was developed.
User feedback further developed a smaller version that can be attached to a lorry mounted crane or small excavator.
This new method eliminates the safety hazards involved with traditional post extraction. Once the Barrier Master is placed on the ground, the post is hydraulically gripped and extracted. This operation transmits 100 per cent of the pulling force back into the ground. This avoids the danger of ejected parts experienced previously.
Increased performance is an additional benefit to the safety. On the M62 we achieved removal of 100 extra-long driven safety posts from the central reservation in just 75 minutes by one operator using Barrier Master, from the safety of a cab without any operative having to touch a post.
By comparison, the same would have taken a three person crew with lorry mounted crane over 12 hours using the established methods.
Alongside operative safety and the reduction in time and resource the Barrier Master contributes to road safety by having fewer network repairs and less lane closures to facilitate the maintenance.
Barrier Master is also recognised by Highways England and Considerate Constructor in terms of industry safety innovation.