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What is a safety bollard? 

safety bollards

Bollards have been around for hundreds of years, keeping people, businesses, and buildings safe. These are particularly useful safety accessories in high-risk settings, such as a warehouse, but can be used in a variety of ways in business. Learn more about safety bollards and their uses below.

What is a safety bollard?

A bollard is a sturdy post installed as a protective barrier for a designated area. It is designed to get the attention of drivers and block vehicles from accessing restricted or pedestrian areas. Doing this helps prevent accidents and protect people and property. However, this was not their original purpose.

Brief history of bollards

Bollards can be dated back thousands of years, with some of the oldest examples from the Roman empire. These were used for tethering or as milestones along the road. In the 17th and 18th centuries, bollards were used to assist with tying up boats on the dock. These were made from decommissioned cannon barrels half-buried in the ground.

The use of bollards for traffic purposes began in the 18th and 19th Centuries, with posts being installed for traffic management. An example of this is the two oak posts set up in Hertfordshire in 1721 to protect the area from damages done by carriages. Bollards were also found in Amsterdam in the early 1800s for the same purpose. Residents installed decorative iron posts in front of their homes and businesses to prevent property damage. Eventually, the city installed cast iron bollards to outline pedestrian areas.

As vehicles evolved to become more heavy and powerful, so did the design and purpose of bollards. They can be used as a decorative element and found along wharves but mainly for safety and protection.

Purpose of bollards

The primary purpose of bollards is for safety and protection. However, this can be achieved in different ways.

One way would be a permanent or temporary barrier for traffic or pedestrian areas. An example of this is commonly seen in parking lots. In many parking lots, there are designated parking spaces and pedestrian walkways. Bollards are installed in these areas to protect people walking or working from oncoming traffic. These are often larger or sturdier and designed to stop or reduce the impact of a car when hitting them. Therefore, they are found in areas where people congregate, such as store entrances or outdoor work areas.

Temporary bollards can also be used to control site access temporarily. For example, there may be a situation where a road is open to cars during the weekday and pedestrians on the weekend. During the weekend, removable or collapsible bollards can be placed on the road so that vehicles cannot enter, but people can.

Another way bollards can promote safety is by providing awareness. Some bollards are not capable of stopping vehicle traffic. But can be used to warn vehicles or pedestrians that they cannot enter a particular area. These may have bright colors or designs to get the driver’s attention or relay a message.

Bollards can also be multi-functional. For example, bollards installed to block off a walking or biking area could have built-in lights. This creates a barrier and improves visibility. Designing bollards to accommodate bike locking would also be helpful in these areas.

Types of bollards

There are several applications for bollards. Below are common examples and uses.

  • Traffic line or street bollards. These are used to guide traffic without impacting visibility or pedestrian access. These are typically permanent and used with other traffic methods, such as speed bumps.
  • Pedestrian bollards. These are used mainly for decoration or to guide pedestrians in walking spaces. However, they can also be used to discourage access to certain areas (e.g., blocking off a flower field in a park).
  • Construction bollards. These are temporary posts to protect construction areas and workers from traffic. It is common for bollards to be brightly colored or have reflective properties.
  • Security bollards. These are used to guide traffic but made to withstand or resist vehicle impact. For this reason, they are often made from steel, concrete, or other strong materials. And found in public spaces, such as schools, stores, public squares, etc.
  • Bike lane security and separation. These are installed to separate cyclists from other vehicles on the road or pedestrians walking in the area.  
  • Protecting building components. Bollards can be installed in areas where people are working or fragile building components are exposed. An example would be gas and water meters or hydrogen fueling equipment.  
  • Ram-raid protection. A ram-raid involves a vehicle driving through the window or doors of a closed shop so that burglars can loot it. Bollards can be installed to prevent this and make the storefront safer for customers.
  • Asset protection. Bollards can also be installed inside a store or business. These can protect assets or equipment, such as refrigerators, racks, shelving, ATMs, etc. This can protect assets from damage from forklifts, pickers, dollies, electronic cleaning equipment, and more within a warehouse.
  • Worker protection. Bollards are useful in workspaces such as warehouses to outline areas of machine traffic (e.g., forklifts). It can also block off areas where it is unsafe for machinery traffic. This helps create awareness and improve safety for operators and other workers working in the same area.