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Using Steel Road Plates Safely

Steel road plates are becoming a more and more frequent sight along our roads, as they are invaluable when it comes to keeping roads and other thoroughfares open. With the steady increase in traffic volume, road closures can be very problematic, causing long delays to traffic, with all the knock-on effects that businesses suffer as a result.

Often, closing a road during daytime is logistically impossible, so repair or excavation work has to be carried out overnight. This is where the plates come in, providing a temporary surface for vehicles and pedestrians to use to get from A to B with the minimum of disruption.

They’re also useful for more local events, or for enthusiastic DIY-ers, who often find steel road plates for sale online and use them to cover areas of their gardens while they undergo reconstruction, for example.

How to use steel road plates

Steel road plates can be installed in a worksite quite easily and rapidly, especially if the area is fairly small and easily accessible. Usually, machinery is needed to lift and lower the plates, so their use can lengthen the time roadworks take to be finished, but the upside is that the road will be usable for most of the duration.

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There are guidelines for the use of these plates and it’s vital that they are adhered to; users must:

  • build in enough time for safe and correct installation and removal;
  • make sure that passing traffic doesn’t displace them – even a millimetre a day soon adds up;
  • make sure that everyone can use them safely – people in wheelchairs, cyclists, people pushing prams, small vehicles, heavy trucks and even plant machinery must all be able to get across the plates safely and with the minimum of inconvenience;
  • start a schedule of inspections and maintenance to make sure the plates aren’t being shifted, moved up or down or damaged in any way and that the surface of the plates maintains a decent amount of traction for shoes, bike and car wheels; this involves also making sure that the plates are easily accessible, and
  • fix the plates into position wherever they are used.

In addition, work teams should use the most appropriate size and weight of plate for the job at hand – consider the size of the excavation and the type of traffic passing over the site.

As steel road plates can weigh up to 200kg each, it’s essential that the right machinery is used to transport, lift and place each plate so it’s in its correct position. When using the machinery, it’s important to remember that the sheer weight of these pieces of metal can cause them to swing, so an exclusion zone of appropriate size is necessary.

Before the plates are delivered to the site for laying, the ground they are to rest upon must be properly prepared, whether the plates are to be on the surface or recessed. Any free edges or gaps must also be filled in and if there are any ramps or uneven surfaces, there should be clear warning signs for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.