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A Comprehensive Guide to Steel Road Plates

Suitable as a temporary solution for covering excavations and allowing roads to temporarily return to service, steel road plates have a growing place in road construction and areas of public works.

On the road

Road Plate

Reinstating the roadway over excavations may be necessary to help reduce traffic congestion, for example at peak times, or to allow roadways to be used whilst other phases of highways and public work progress. Steel road plates are also popularly used when lane rental schemes are operational or in the event that the highway authority forbids lane closures, as they offer the ideal compromise for keeping lanes and roads open whilst ongoing work progresses, such as overnight, weekends or public holidays. They may also be regularly seen when excavations have begun as a preliminary part of construction or repair projects, when ensuing work is held up or unforeseen problems prevent the work from being completed.

Design and durability

Steel road plates are designed with heavy-duty durability on busy roads in mind, so design features include:

  • Holes to the corners for attaching to lifting plant in ways which are safely and easily facilitated from either side of the plate.
  • Design which allows plates to be bolted to the road.
  • Heavy weight design, for robust strength – the smallest plates can weigh around 200kg each.
  • Hinged versions which are ideal for allowing quick access to the excavation or regular access across it, such as for access across the trench to a driveway ­­at the end of each working day.
  • Composite plates, which can accommodate various lengths of trench.
  • Anti-skid finish versions, which offer skid-resistance for enhanced vehicle, pedestrian and site worker safety.

Design for different duties

Road Plates

Steel road plates are generally available in a comprehensive range of sizes to accommodate plenty of types of excavations:

  • Plates can be used for wide transverse trenches up to 2.2m (safety tested for spans of up to 2.2m).
  • Longitudinal trenches up to 70cm. Although longitudinal trenches can be more difficult to cover safely, as individual plates are prone to rocking when vehicle wheels run across them width-wise rather than lengthwise, steel road plates can be safely deployed on longitudinal trenches up to 0.7m wide.
  • Large rectangular evacuations.

Design and deployment

Overall, steel road plates can be installed fairly quickly when using the appropriate machinery, depending on the size and accessibility of the area to be covered. However, the use of machinery for the installation process means that deploying the steel road plates is a long term solution which may, as necessary, extend the duration of site works. As such, it is vital in planning and deployment to:

  • Allow sufficient time for correct installation and removal.
  • Check for displacement by traffic loading from the outset – plates should always resist displacement.
  • Consider that plates must not present a hazard to any type of road user and could potentially be crossed by all road users and vehicle types, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, as well as possibly by plant vehicles as part of the construction site.
  • Implement a schedule of regular inspection and maintenance to ensure that performance remains safe and optimum. To facilitate this, accessibility to the plates should always be possible and planned for when deploying the plates.
  • Fixing of the plates should be achievable wherever they are used.
  • Use the most appropriate plates for the purpose / type of excavation.
  • Recognise that the fact that steel road plates offer heavy weight stability means that mechanical lifting is required to place them accurately and safely.
  • Consider appropriate safety zones, particularly when planning installation, redeployment and removal as the weight of the plates can cause swinging in the wider construction area or across neighbouring carriageways / footways.
  • Prepare suitable bedding material, as this will be necessary whether the plates are surface mounted or recessed. Gaps and edges will also need to be filled accordingly.
  • Be aware that if a ramp is created by the road plates, then warning signs for pedestrian and road users will be necessary.

As with all road and excavation works, it is important to conduct full site surveys and to take the professional advice of a structural engineer. The deployment, size and thickness of the steel road plates required needs to be formally assessed by a qualified professional in order to comply with regulations and meet the support and stability requirements for bridging the excavation, securing to the road and filling in gaps to prevent hazards. In the event that additional professional product advice and information is needed, SafeSite Facilities are happy assist.

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SafeSite Facilities Ltd
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BN17 7PA

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