How do the new 2014 Construction regulations affect Vehicle Restraint Systems choices in Workzone Safety?

Clients Responsibility for Safety – New Construction Regulations

The specification of any Vehicle Restraint system (VRS) falls under the SANS standard SANS51317. What follows below is an explanation of why the correct standard should be specified from the start.

With the 2014 revision to the construction regulations, the Client and their representatives can no longer abrogate the responsibility for safety in the construction zone to the contractor.  Now the ultimate responsibility for construction safety falls on the client. With this in mind, it is the client and subsequently the consultant’s responsibility to specify in such a way to ensure that this is possible and allowed for financially in the bill.

  • I mention this because if the bill does not specify the standard required from the start, there will be a claim for additional costs once the project starts, and potential claims for additional time while the contractor obtains a compliant system. This can obviously be avoided if the VRS is correctly specified at tender phase.

From a legal perspective, traffic accommodation is specified in Chapter 13 of the South African Road Traffic Signs Manual. (See the attached Scan) where it is stated that the use of barrier should be done in accordance with the prevailing SABS standards, which in this case is SANS51317.

In simple terms, SANS51317 is a cut and paste of EN1317, and first and foremost requires that vehicle restraint systems are CRASH TESTED. The crash testing is done according to the performance classes in the attached document. If you would like some crash test videos, and the full SANS document sent through to you, we will need to use something like Drop Box or the like.

When a Vehicle restraint system is specified according to the standard, the next important requirement is to ensure that it is then installed AS TESTED, so if a compliant system is being used, but it is not being installed as tested, it then does not actually comply. For example the practice we see in Gauteng with the SANRAL 3m barriers being put in place with straps instead of the fish plates – this negates any compliance, as the barriers are then not installed as tested.

The second part that then needs to be taken into account is the working width of the barriers; the amount of movement of the barriers during the crash test is measured; and the placing of the barriers to allow for a safe work zone needs to be taken into account. As you will see on the Deltabloc DB80 spec sheet I have attached, the deflection of the system is 630mm in a H1 crash test. The SANRAL standard temporary barriers have a simulated deflection of 2100mm as per section 1500 of their tender documents.

SANRAL in their tender documents specify a H1 containment level for temporary movable barriers, and make the working width design or allowances the problem of the contractor to define. This will be something that will have to be checked by the RE under the new Construction Regs.

  • A specification for the project should read something like the below, merely a suggestion of course:

“Suitable movable vehicle restraint system, complying to SANS51317 with a containment level of H1, installed as per the crash test.” This allows the contractor to choose from a host of systems regardless of supplier that comply, and ensures both a fair tender and a suitable system being used during the contract.