Beyond the Railing: Safety Solutions for Bridges

May 09, 2024    |    Civil Engineering , Fabrication , Rigging , Tensile mesh

Bridges are not just means of crossing; they are marvels of engineering, symbolising progress, connection, and the overcoming of natural obstacles. However awe-inspiring they may appear, their safety remains a paramount concern, demanding constant innovation and vigilance. Traditional guardrails serve as the basic defence against accidents, but as we venture into a new era of bridge construction, the industry is looking beyond standard solutions.

Common Challenges in Bridge Safety

Bridge safety encompasses more than preventing structural failure; it includes ensuring the safety of those who traverse these spans daily. The most common challenges include fall prevention, structural integrity under diverse environmental conditions, and the maintenance of clear visibility for users. Real-world incidents, such as the tragedy at Genoa’s Morandi Bridge, underscore the devastating impact of overlooking such critical safety measures.

In New Zealand, particular emphasis has been placed on enhancing bridge safety, with a specific focus on fall protection measures. This focus is part of a broader commitment to public safety and infrastructure resilience. At SRS (Structural Rigging Solutions), we are a leading provider of bridge fall safety protection measures on a range of projects throughout the country and we have been at the forefront of introducing innovative fall safety netting solutions designed to protect workers during the construction and maintenance phases, as well as to safeguard the public.


Spencer Road Footbridge Safety and Fall Arrest Mesh Tirohanga Whanui Bridge Copyright: Mark Scowen Photography

Our high-grade, durable mesh netting systems are engineered to absorb the energy of a fall, significantly reducing the risk of serious injuries. This approach not only exemplifies New Zealand’s progressive stance on bridge safety but also demonstrates a practical application of cutting-edge technology to protect lives. The implementation of such advanced fall protection measures by SRS reflects a vital aspect of modern bridge safety management, underscoring the importance of proactive safety practices in the construction industry.

Our safety netting is also commonly used on civil projects that require anti-throw and anti-debris protection, typically bridge work, and this can be seen on several projects we have worked on including the Kirkbride RoadBarrowcliffe Bridge and Northcote Bridge projects.

Innovative Technologies and Strategies

One of the most promising advancements in bridge safety is the implementation of stainless steel cable mesh. This innovative solution offers a blend of strength, durability, and minimal aesthetic impact. Here are a few reasons why it’s setting new standards in safety:

  • Strength & Resilience: Despite its minimalistic appearance, stainless steel cable mesh is incredibly robust. It’s capable of absorbing and dissipating forces, thereby offering effective fall protection without compromising the structural integrity of the bridge.
  • Lightweight Champion: Heavy safety barriers add undue stress to bridge structures, which can lead to early deterioration and increased maintenance costs. Cable mesh’s lightweight nature alleviates these concerns, making it an ideal choice for both new constructions and the retrofitting of historical bridges.
  • See-Through Saviour: One of the unique benefits of cable mesh is its transparency. This feature ensures that the panoramic views, often a significant aspect of bridge design, remain unobstructed, marrying safety with aesthetic pleasure seamlessly.

The Art of Fall Protection: Curved Netting Systems

Kirkbride Bridge

Adapting to the unique contours of modern bridge designs, curved netting systems demonstrate how custom-engineered solutions can address complex architectural challenges without sacrificing safety. These systems blend so well with the bridge’s architecture that they enhance its visual appeal while offering a robust safety net.

Beyond the Fall: Multi-Hazard Protection

Bridges are exposed to myriad conditions, from gusting winds to seismic activities. The adaptability of cable mesh and other innovative materials, such as seismic isolators and dampers, offer protection against multiple hazards. These technologies not only safeguard the structure and its users but also extend the lifespan of the bridge with reduced need for constant maintenance.

Case Studies

Here are SRS, we have worked on a number of civil engineering bridge projects that have required fall protection or anti-throw screening. Here are some of the projects we have worked on:

Barrowcliffe Bridge Project

The Barrowcliffe Bridge project is part of the wider Barrowcliffe Place project, creating a better walking/cycling route and connecting Wiri with the heart of Manukau. SRS was responsible for the installation of anti-throw screens using Carl Stahl XTend Mesh with a laser-cut handrail, uprights, and galvanised rail. Learn more about our custom fabrication services.

Kirkbride Road Project

Working in conjunction with Ronstan, SRS Group used our tensile safety mesh to create anti-throw and fall protection screen panels to line the footpath of the Kirkbride Road underpass (over the SH20A).

Working in conjunction with Ronstan, SRS was contracted to install Carl Stahl X-Tend® Tensile Mesh along the sides of the bridge, which would act as a safety feature and deterrent for pedestrians to throw objects from the bridge to the underpass below. To make the barrier more visually appealing and reflect the local culture, the mesh was designed to resemble the traditional Maori canoe, a Waka, moving through waves.

Northcote Bridges Project

Northcote Safe Cycle Route Bridge

SRS Group were delighted to be involved in the Northcote safe cycle route project that was completed in mid-2021. The project has created a safe, 5.5km route for pedestrians and cyclists along Northcote Road, Lake Road, and Queen Street on the North Shore.

The bridges have been officially named Tapuwae (footprint) by iwi artist Reuben Kirkwood of Ngai Tai ki Tamaki Iwi. SRS Group completed Mr Kirkwood’s design of gold and red interwoven cables across both sides of the bridge. Learn more about our cable manufacturing services.

Tirohanga Whanui Bridge Project

When the NZ Transport Agency commissioned a footbridge to pass over Auckland’s Northern Motorway at Albany, SRS Group and partners Ronstan Tensile Architecture stepped in to help.

SRS Group was engaged to undertake the complex installation of detailed mesh panels and connections in two sections; to act as anti-throw and fall arrest protection above the bridge deck, and to enclose the services area below the deck.

Our expert installers worked closely with Ronstan, who engineered, designed and detailed the mesh panels and connections. Their high-quality stainless steel Carl Stahl X-Tend Mesh was specified for the job, and they also supplied ACS3-SSM16 cable systems for the top cables, each with two joiners.

Future Trends in Bridge Safety

Looking ahead, the future of bridge safety lies in the integration of technology with traditional engineering. Smart sensors, predictive analytics, and advanced materials promise a new horizon where bridges not only respond to current stresses but can predict and mitigate future vulnerabilities.


The safety of our bridges is a testament to the engineering prowess and foresight of those who dare to dream big. By incorporating advanced materials like stainless steel cable mesh and investing in innovative strategies, we pave the way for safer, more resilient infrastructure. These developments ensure that bridges continue to inspire awe without posing risks, leaving a legacy of safety for generations to come.

Bridges are majestic structures that inspire awe, but their beauty should never overshadow the importance of safety. The introduction of solutions such as stainless steel cable mesh and curved netting systems marks a revolution in how we approach the safety of these essential infrastructures. As we look to the future, it’s clear that the field of bridge safety will continue to evolve, incorporating even more innovative solutions that ensure the safety and security of all who cross them.