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What Can Road Plates Be Used For?

Road plates are steel or glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) protective covers placed over holes, trenches and other excavations. They’re used on construction sites, highway and road works and at events to keep people and vehicles safe and to allow traffic and pedestrians to travel over them.

Steel road plates are heavy-duty and designed for busy roads. They can be used as a single plate or composite, which means they can accommodate wide transverse trenches up to 2.2m and longitudinal trenches up to 0.7m wide. They’re heavy, so have holes in each corner to attach to lifting equipment and can be securely bolted to the ground. Hinged versions are available to allow access to the trench if required.

GRP road plates are lighter in weight, so don’t require professional lifting equipment for installation, they can be moved and installed with a two person lift. Each plate is part of a composite system and offers high visibility protection over potentially dangerous excavations. They are also more flexible, as they can adapt to surface contours more easily. They’re also quieter than steel road plates, so are more suitable for use in residential areas, for example, where noise needs to be kept to a minimum.


So what are some common uses for road plates?

Plastic Road Plates over Road

Traffic flow

Road plates allow the safe flow of traffic during road works. Whether it is an excavation for maintenance work, road construction or demolition works, road plates can be secured into place over the excavation to allow movement of traffic.

Both steel and plastic road plates can take the weight of a vehicle, but steel road plates are sturdier and heavier so can withstand more extreme loads, such as lorries and plant traffic.

Road plates are a good solution if roads need to be temporarily returned to service during busy times, such as rush hour. During non-peak times, traffic can be diverted and works can continue. This helps to minimise congestion.

They are also commonly used in situations with lane rental schemes where local authorities charge companies for working on a road during busy times. Another use is if lane closures have been forbidden during highway works. Road plates are a good compromise for keeping lanes and roads open while roadworks are ongoing, so works can continue at quieter times, such as overnight, weekends or public holidays.

Road plates also allow roads to be used while other phases of the work are in progress. They can also be used as a preliminary part of construction, when work has been held up for whatever reason or issues have prevented completion of the work.

It’s important to weigh up the benefits of reducing congestion with the amount of time it takes to install road plates. Sometimes it is more cost effective to just divert traffic and get the work done, instead of taking the time and expense to install a road plate. Make sure you allow sufficient time for correct installation and removal.

Road plate over bike lane

Pedestrian safety

Building sites and other maintenance works can be a danger to pedestrians. To ensure your site is safe, for insurance reasons and to avoid accidents, road plates cover holes and trenches on building sites and during maintenance work. This helps to ensure pedestrians don’t slip or fall in. Steel road plates can also be manufactured with an anti-slip coating for additional safety in wet and muddy conditions. GRP road plates have an integrated anti skid surface.


Road plates are also useful at outdoor events, such as festivals, which have a large pedestrian footfall. Any dangerous holes or trenches can be covered up with a road plate to ensure safety of event attendees. Be aware that if a ramp is created by the road plates, then warning signs are necessary.

Road plates covering hole

Protection from the weather

As well as anti-skid coatings to avoid slips and falls in wet weather, road plates can cover up trenches and other excavations to ensure they don’t fill with water, snow or mud. This keeps any equipment or pipework safe and damage-free and avoids creating large puddles which could be a hazard to pedestrians and vehicles.

Whatever your site’s requirements, it’s vital to use the most appropriate road plates for the purpose or type of excavation. As with all works, it is important to conduct a site survey and speak to a structural engineer. SafeSite Facilities can also help with any questions you may have.

Manufactured to withstand even extreme loads, including plant vehicles, SafeSite’s road plates are fully compliant with the Safety at Street Works and Road Works Code of Practice.

SafeSite Facilities offers a hire or buy service for its road plates, with delivery anywhere across the UK. Cost will vary depending on the needs of the site or excavation, so please contact our expert team for a no-obligation quote.

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