Stainless steel cable mesh is an excellent material for creating fall protection barriers on elevated structures. This includes footbridges, vehicle bridges with walkways, central atriums, elevated playgrounds, carparks and staircases.
Fall protection barriers must address range of safety issues in line with construction codes. Here are some examples:
- Falls, climbing and jumping – the barrier should not only prevent accidental falls but also deliberate climbing, jumping or pushing.
- Anti-throwing – the throwing of rocks from footbridges onto vehicles below can cause serious accidents, so in some busy regions, bridges over roads or railways will need anti-throw screens of at least 3 metres in height.
- Structural loads – the structure needs to be able to bear the extra weight of the barrier. This is an especially important consideration for a retrofit barrier on a bridge, as it may mean the bridge needs additional reinforcements.
- Wind loads – this needs to be addressed in an outdoor barrier, especially in a high-wind area.
- Aesthetics – the barrier should integrate well with the design of the structure and not overtake it.
- Longevity – for example, bridge codes state that safety screens should last at least 50 years.
Why use stainless steel cable mesh for barriers?
Steel cable mesh material such as Jakob Webnet, which is made from marine-grade stainless steel, provides several benefits for barrier construction, such as:
- Strength and longevity – even through the material is light in weight it is also extremely robust and has excellent longevity (up to 25 years).
- Non-climbability – to be non-climbable, the barrier should prevent footholds. Webnet mesh barriers can be made non-climbable through a small aperture-opening size (usually 40mm or under).
- Transparency – Webnet’s light filigree appearance means it can be created to integrate with the design of the structure. A transparent barrier also allows for views, light and airflow.
- Ease of installation – Webnet makes for a quicker and easier installation due to being a lightweight material that is easily transported.
- Greater use of space – a full-height, fully non-climbable atrium barrier allows upper spaces to be used right to the edge of the void, as in the case of the Melbourne School of Design.
- Design freedom – the malleability of Webnet makes it ideal for innovative design. An example of this can be seen on Sydney’s helical-shaped Lachlan Line footbridge. Webnet can be coloured to suit the project.
- Low maintenance – Webnet is very low maintenance thanks to its corrosion resistance, which helps to reduce ongoing costs.
How does stainless steel mesh compare to other materials?
Some of the other options on the market include glass, perforated metal panels, galvanised steel, acrylic panelling, timber or concrete.
Most of these materials tend to be heavier than stainless steel mesh which in turn can lead to load problems – such as when retrofitting a barrier to a footbridge for example. Solid wall barriers on bridges can also be problematic in terms of obstructing views and causing a wind-tunnel effect.
Heavier and more solid materials don’t allow for the same degree of design expression as Webnet. In addition, some materials (Chainlink and acrylic panels for example) have either short lifespans or high maintenance requirements, making them less cost-effective in the end.
For transparent atrium barriers, glass is sometimes used. However, making a glass barrier non-climbable can be expensive as it requires the use of larger and heavier panels. This not only adds to the cost but may also extend installation time.
At Tensile, we frequently use Jakob Webnet for barriers on footbridges, atriums and many other structures, because of the many superior benefits it offers. Contact us to find out more about stainless steel cable mesh for fall protection barriers.