Road safety barriers: concrete vs plastic

Safety barriers come in different shapes, sizes and materials with each type suited to certain site conditions.

Here’s how to ensure you get the right concrete or waterfilled barrier for the job.

When assessing which safety barriers to hire for your construction project, it is worth considering safety, cost, durability, and effectiveness for the job at hand. Both plastic waterfilled barriers and concrete barriers have advantages and disadvantages, so let’s look deeper into how to ensure you hire the right safety barriers for your job.

Plastic waterfilled safety barriers

Plastic safety barriers can be cost effective to hire, relatively durable, lightweight, and easy to install.

Many waterfilled barriers on the market are designed to be easy to set up on site. When empty, they typically weigh around 40 to 50kg, meaning they can be moved around the work site and positioned into place using a forklift or simply using manpower. Once they are filled with water from a water cart or truck, however, they are very heavy, weighing in at hundreds of kilograms.

If you want to hire barriers that are quick to install and remove when the job is one, waterfilled barriers are an ideal choice.

These barriers are best for placing within work sites, carparks, and around low speed vehicles. This is because most plastic barriers are not designed to withstand impacts from cars travelling at high speed, for example, the Water-Wall barrier is rated to 40km/hr zones.

However, there are a few models available for hire that can handle higher speeds. The Lo-Ro plastic barrier for example is rated up to 70km/hr. Similarly, the Armorzone barrier is rated up to 50km/hr.

Concrete jersey barriers

Jersey barriers can be a more durable choice for many heavy duty applications. Tough and solid, precast concrete barriers are designed to dissipate kinetic energy upon impact, making them better than plastic barriers for areas where there is potential for higher speed vehicle impacts.

F Type jersey barriers are ideal for many road applications, displaying great stability and durability as well as being easy to transport and install with a Franna or truck mounted crane.

Approved for use on Australian roads and suitable for a wide range of applications, from splitting traffic flows to construction site safety, our precast concrete crash barriers enable you to do so in the safest and most effective way.

Along with the F Type barrier, we can also hire concrete barriers like the Deltabloc which is a heavy duty crash barrier approved for speed zones of up 100km/hr in NSW and VIC and 80km/hr in Queensland. Weighing over 3000kg, these 6 metre long road barriers deflect cars travelling at high speed, keeping you safe if you are working alongside a main road.


Ultimately it’s up to the project manager to decide which type of barrier is best for the project. Often there’s no right or wrong barrier and each option has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the application.

When deciding on which barrier to hire, make note of these points:

Key takeaways and considerations

  • Take into account the site requirements and safety factors before deciding which barrier is best for you
  • Decide what fits your budget
  • Consider the duration of the job and how durable the barriers need to be
  • Most importantly, ensure you understand the local workplace health and safety regulations and road authority regulations (find out more about MASH ratings here)
  • If you’re working near cars travelling at speed, renting concrete barriers is usually going to be a safer option
  • If you are looking for a barrier for use within a work site or where higher speed vehicles are not present, a waterfilled barrier is a good choice

Find out more

If you need assistance in hiring the right concrete or waterfilled barriers for your next long term project, give the friendly and safe team at Orange Hire a call.

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