What are barricades? Barricade Definitions & Types of BarricadesArticle published on Mar 31, 2021
Barricade Definitions & Types of Barricades
Barricades may seem like common sense structures which need no explanation, but with so many varieties now available to construction workers, event planners, public facilities, and police departments, it's valuable to understand what a barricade actually is.
In this post, we'll define what a barricade is and discuss some of the most common types of barricades used for crowd control and safety:
1. What is a barricade?
2. Why are barricades used for?
3. What are the main types of barricades?
What is a barricade?
That depends on who you're asking. Officially, a barricade is "an improvised barrier erected across a street or other thoroughfare to prevent or delay the movement of opposing forces". This brings to mind the many traffic barriers we interact with on a daily basis.
However OSHA defines barricades much more thoroughly, stating that a barricade is "a physical obstruction such as tapes, cones, or A-frame type wood or metal structures that provides a warning about, and limits access to, a hazardous area. ... A physical obstruction that prevents contact with energized lines or equipment or prevents unauthorized access to a work area."
OSHA's definition is especially important because barriers are often safety requirements in potentially hazardous work environments like stocking and warehouse work, construction work, and even janitorial work, all jobs which are included in OSHA's list of 10 most hazardous workplaces in terms of accident or injury rates.
While traffic barricades may be the barricade types which come to mind most readily, as OSHA clearly demonstrates, barricades are important for many workplaces, even those indoors, far from the flow of traffic.
What are barricades used for?
As mentioned already, people may tend to think of barricades as structures for traffic and construction safety, and that is not without reason. While construction sites only make up 6% of American workers, this industry makes up 20% of worker deaths in a given year. To put it simply, construction sites are dangerous places to be. Barricades are not only used to protect construction workers from the traffic around them, they're also used to mark or block off holes in the ground, dangerous equipment, and areas where electrocution risks exist.
But as we discussed above, construction work is not the only occasion for these trusty barriers. Think of the last time you attended a parade, a marathon, or even an outdoor farmer's market. Barricades are used for crowd control perhaps as often as they are for construction needs. In these cases, steel barricades like these are not only used to protect spectators from traffic, but also to help attendees discern where they should and shouldn't go. Theme parks may even use barricades to indicate entry or exit lines.
The Main Types of Barricades
1) Steel Barricades
Steel barricades are extremely versatile structures for both crowd control and safety in outdoor or indoor environments. While they can be powder coated in traffic safety colors like red, yellow, and orange, they can also be customized with other colors to accommodate special events for universities or businesses maintaining brand colors.
Steel barricades are especially useful for outdoor events since they're often protected with powder coating like the custom colors mentioned above or galvanized with zinc to keep them rust-resistant. Feet can be fixed or attachable and vary depending on the kind of surface they'll be on. For instance fixed feet and detachable bridge feet are designed for uneven terrain while flat detachable feet are useful for flat surfaces like parking lots, concrete floors, or indoor floors.
These kinds of barricades also have hooks and receivers on their sides to allow for interlocking so that you can create as long of a continuous barrier as you need.
2) Traffic Barricades
"Traffic Barricades" usually refer to the simple barricades made from steel frames with plastic boards going across in rows of two, three or four. These boards often have reflective surfaces and stripes to make them more visible to oncoming traffic. While they're not strong enough to truly stop a vehicle from entering an area like a concrete jersey barrier, they make it obvious to drivers and pedestrians where they cannot enter.
You may also see these referred to as "Type II" and "Type III" barricades, referring to the number of boards going across.
3) Foldable Barricades & A-Frames
Type II barricades can also refer to "folding barricades" or "A Frames" instead of the steel frames with boards mentioned above. A Frames look and function like ordinary traffic barricades but use A-shaped plastic shapes to support the barrier boards instead of steel.
Folding barricades on the other hand can look a bit like the sandwich board signs that restaurants use to display their menus along the sidewalk, but instead of messaging, they have the same reflective orange striped plastic boards you'd see with the traffic barricades. At ~2 feet tall, these barricades are not typically used to block off large roadways and are more typically used to prevent people from falling or stumbling upon holes in the pavement. Or for instance these can be easily set up to block hallways during construction or maintenance tasks since they're small, lightweight, and easy to move around.
4) Plastic Barricades or Pedestrian Barricade
Plastic barricades are often also referred to as "pedestrian barricades". Structurally they're quite similar to the steel barricades mentioned earlier with interlocking devices to allow for the creation of continuous barriers, but since they're made with plastic, they're best used for sidewalks or walkways where they'd block pedestrians instead of vehicles.
If you want more help choosing a barricade that's right for your needs, take a look at our Barricade Comparison Guide or our Barricade Buying Guide for a closer investigation into barricade features and variations, particularly for steel barricades.