All of us are looking for bargains. Sometimes we may even find one. We wait patiently until it arrives and then we’re either very disappointed or over the moon when we get it. Unfortunately, it is usually the former. Retractable barriers or traditional barriers are no different. We’ve put together a list of things you should beware of when you buy cheap barriers.
1. Braking System. Try to make sure the barriers have a braking system. In 2002 a major retailer in the UK was fined by the health and safety executive and had to change all of their queuing systems when a queue barrier was accidentally disconnected. The belt flew back in toward its cartridge and, unfortunately, a small child was hit in the face with the tape end. The victim ending up having six stitches. After this, the braking system was introduced to slow down the webbing retraction speed and an “anti-tamper” lock was introduced to ensure accidental release is avoided.
2. Base shape. Many cheap barriers utilise high flat bases. This restricts access for wheel chair users and you could end up in deep water if you receive a complaint from a potential client. Please keep it in mind that this is not a local council requirement, it is national legislation. The base should allow access to all according to the equality act.
3. Sharp edges. One of the biggest concerns we experience and end up having to replace competitors’ systems for are sharp edges. If the finish is reported as “Stainless Steel” the base has usually been pressed. If we use pressed bases we will always dress the edges to ensure that burrs are removed. However, supplying cheap queue barriers means that they can only be supplied to the distributor on a high volume basis. This usually means that short cuts are taken and burr removal is an easy one to dismiss as the burr will be on the underside of the base. The main problem is whilst visually you will not see the burr, as soon as you move the barrier and start handling it, the problems start. Anyone who correctly lift the barrier by its’ weight may be subject to scratches and cuts.
4. Concrete Bases. - This is fairly common. To keep the price of the barrier low, many Asian manufacturers have started using concrete as a weight. Whilst this is fine if it is encapsulated, it is a disaster if it isn’t. Eventually the concrete will deteriorate and eventually you’ll be left with a stump on the end of your post and a pile of dust. Stay away from Concrete bases, unless they have been encapsulated.
5. Gauge of material - The standard thickness of the material we use is 1.5mm. Many imported barriers are as low as 0.8mm (otherwise known as thick kitchen foil). If you feel comfortable that your barriers will not at some point be pushed over, accidentally stood upon or even crashed into by a pram user, then this concern doesn’t really apply to you.
6. Quality of the stitching. - I’m not sure how you would check this, especially if you are buying you products on line. But remember you do have fourteen working days, legally, to return the products under the Consumer Contracts Regulations. When you buy goods online you have additional rights to return them. This is because your decision may be based on a brief description or a photograph
7. Silver plastics. - Take a good look at the plastic components of the barrier. If they have silver streaks running through them it means that the moulding machine has been running too fast and the plastic parts have become brittle. Eventually, the connectors will break off and an entire barrier will be wasted if you can not find a replacement connector.
8. Floor protectors. – not an absolute necessity, but remember a damaged floor will cost a lot more to repair than if a few extra pounds was spent on the barriers in the first place.
9. Weight and stability. - How to check. Stable barriers will not budge as you pull the tape out. If you extract the belt and the post tilts in the slightest, then the post is not heavy enough to use as a queuing barrier. If the action of pulling the tape out moves the barrier, imagine a person leaning on it.
10. Real Stainless. – Many companies claim that barriers are manufactured in stainless steel. In reality that’s what they have been advised by their supplier. However if you ask for a certificate of compliance, it is unlikely you will receive one. General stainless steel, unless it is grade 430, should not be magnetic. Grade 430 should not be used if you are looking to have these anywhere other than in the kitchen. Then there are the 200 series of stainless steel. Although you will see less red corrosion (rust) than mild steel, you will see a high level of pitting. In our view the correct grades to use are 304 stainless, or if external, 316 stainless.
11. Flaking Chrome – How annoying is this. The barriers look great when you first get them, however in a couple of months the chrome plating falls away or flakes leaving sharp pieces on your queue barrier. Chrome plating should be undertaken on a sub plating such as nickel. In many instances the chrome is applied to the substrate without a base plate applied. Stay well away from these unless you want a glitter shower.