Balkan Plumbing

Case Study: Steel plates vs composite road plates

Wondering how we improved profitability, safety, efficiency and simplicity for our client, Balkan Plumbing? “Transforming their operations”, Oxford Plastics are proud to provide a detailed case study explaining how our work with Balkan Plumbing allowed them to significantly reduce unnecessary expenditure and seamlessly speed up their workflow. Learn more about how our plastic road plates and trench covers revolutionised this company’s operations.

About Balkan Plumbing

Balkan Plumbing is the largest sewer and water main specialists in New York, and has been for over 30 years. On a daily basis, Balkan Plumbing of NYC deploy multiple crews to install, repair and maintain water and sewer connections between the main lines and homes/buildings. The excavations require a temporary cover prior to the work being completed and the road surface restored.

Prior to the involvement of Oxford Plastics, Balkan used steel road plates delivered from their service yards to ‘safely’ cover a trench. However, they found this process itself came with its challenges:

  • Additional workers required – due to the weight of the steel plates, they required at least two people to help lift these. This then, in turn, led to a reduction in profit due to the labour-power required.
  • Heavy lifting equipment – specialised equipment was also required for the heavy lifting of these steel plates into place. The steel road plates would then also need to be anchored and edged into place to ensure a seamless transition from street to plate.
  • Specialised transportation – transporting the steel road plates from yard to site also required specialised transport which, again, led to additional costs.
  • Extra costs – not to mention the above costs of transport and workers, but inconveniencing the public also came with its costs – as well as opening up the potential for accidents to happen.

With numerous other disadvantages of using steel road plates, including noise pollution, street closures and reduction in profit due to labour-force required, something needed to be done.

That’s where Oxford Plastics – and our composite plastic road plates – came in, offering safety, savings and simplicity.

The process

Oxford Plastic’s plastic road plates and trench covers are able to support a crew of 4-6 workers. The team are dispatched into two trucks along with the equipment required to carry out an excavation. The excavation is carried out with a jack hammer and shovels, which is followed by the repair of the line and/or connection. Back filling and restoration of the asphalt roadway is then done. If the works require additional days, plating is needed to allow traffic access.

By using Oxford Plastics, the process itself has been simplified – meaning fewer workers are required, the set-up speed is faster and easier, the road plates are more secure and there’s less noise pollution. Learn more about the benefits of composite road plates from our guide.

Benefits Balkan found using Oxford Plastics over steel plates


  • Purchase price – reduction in overall expenditure on composite road plates as opposed to steel
  • Compliance modifications – there would be no fines from applying anti-skid surfaces to plates, as the LowPro 23/05 has this moulded into the cover
  • Maintenance – easier to install, transport and store than steel road plates


  • Loading – more lightweight so easier to load, requiring less labour
  • Transportation – no need for specialised transport, further reducing unnecessary costs
  • Yard storage – easy to store and move around the yard or by hand
  • Setting – using our LowPro technology, our products do not need to be anchored down unless specified in the risk assessment – meaning setting the road plates has never been easier
  • Removal – as well as being easy to install, the removal of the road plates is also simple and quick – with no cold patch removal.

Testimonial from Balkan’s CEO

We spoke to Dave Balkan, CEO of Joseph L Balkan Plumbing – who explained how Oxford Plastics has transformed their operations:

“Oxford Plastics has made our operations more efficient, safer and more profitable.

“Prior to using the composite plates, we’d sometimes have a 3-hour notice on a job – meaning we had to solve urgent problems using steel plates. This would mean we would need to open our facilities (which aren’t always open), move equipment and get to where the steel plates were stored.

“Then, loading up steel plates alone would need at least two guys to move them – and then we’d need to go out to a drop site and install them. All this would mean it would be unlikely that we’d meet the 3-hour deadline – which could result in a $1,200 summons.

“However, now we use Oxford Plastics plates, we are able to meet the deadline in less than an hour with no stress, no injury and no worry – knowing that everything will be easily taken care of.”

Want to know more about the differences between steel plates and composite road plates? Read our dedicated guide – or browse our range of LowPro road plates and trench covers online today.

Ultimate guide to road plates

Need road plates to cover up a temporary excavation, bore hole or trench? Oxford Plastics have you covered. But before you purchase, you might want to understand more about road plates. That’s why we put together this guide on road plates – including how much weight they can hold, whether you should choose steel road plates or plastic road plates, and the different types of road plates you can use.

What are road plates used for?

Road plates are designed to provide a temporary solution for ground excavations or broken road areas where pedestrians, traffic or machinery would need access. They are used in a variety of situations, such as pavement areas as well as carriageways – as heavy-duty road plates also have the ability to take on the weight of a 44-tonne vehicle. Road plates are available to purchase treated with a skid-resistant surface, as well as untreated – depending on the situation that they are required for.

Road plate weight

Our composite road plates from Oxford Plastics can take the weight of a 44-tonne vehicle. However, regarding the weight of the plate itself, typically, this depends on the nominal size thickness of the plate required to cover the excavation whilst maintaining a safe load bearing capacity. However, it’s worth noting that composite road plates are considerably lighter than steel road plates – meaning that they can be manually installed unlike steel plates which require a HIAB or heavy-lifting machinery.

Steel road plates vs plastic road plates

Often when deciding which road plates to use, the question arises whether steel road plates or composite road plates are better. Typically, composite road plates offer many benefits that steel road plates cannot offer – such as stability and even surfaces, less noise pollution than steel road plates and they’re much easier to move due to plastic road plates light weight. Steel plates also tend to bend and warp over time – whereas plastic road plates offer a solution which is much more durable.

For more information, view our guide on steel road plates vs plastic road plates.

Different types of road plates

Here at Oxford Plastics, we offer a variety of road plates to cover temporary excavations. Choose from either our LowPro 15/05 Road plate – a modular road plate for a 700mm trench – or our LowPro 23/05 Road Plate – the same modular road plate but built for a 1200mm trench instead.

For more information on buying road plates and trench covers, get in touch with a member of our expert team.

Why Select Oxford Plastics for your High Street Requirements?

Selecting a supplier for anything can be a challenging process, more so during the COVID-19 pandemic when councils and local authorities have had to quickly select a provider of safety equipment to assist and ensure social distancing measures.

Here we outline the numerous benefits of using Oxford Plastics, with its 35-year experience and UK-manufactured equipment, to implement your COVID-19 social distancing measures:


We’ve been doing this for 35 years and have unparalleled knowledge when it comes to equipment, product sets and implementation. We can guide and advise our client base on the most appropriate solution for their needs and be on-hand to provide assistance in the design of the safety solution required.

Easy Installation

Our products are delivered ready to be installed, and many can be transported and installed as and when needed, like our portable one-person SafeGate Barrier. Our equipment is not just designed for its safety qualities, but is often stackable and lightweight to make transportation and installation easier.

Highly Visible

Our product sets are not only designed with safety in mind, they’re also designed to be highly visible in order to make it easier for members of the public to understand and adhere to them, such as the ClearPath® Mat.

In addition, our safety signage can be implemented alongside the equipment to further ensure visibility and comprehension.

Immediately Available

Working in the area of safety equipment and signage, it is crucial that we have our equipment available immediately to clients that have a requirement. Having a long lead time on safety barriers to cordon off a public hazard is unacceptable and as such, we have some of the shortest lead times in the UK, ensuring our clients get exactly what they need when they need it.


The flexibility of our solutions is a significant feature as it can be easily adapted or reconfigured to meet the particular current need.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, this flexibility is proving invaluable as guidance is changing constantly, and town planners and councils need to be able to alter the current layouts easily to adjust the social distancing measures in order to comply with the most recent Government guidance.

UK Manufactured

Oxford Plastics manufactures its products in the UK, which means we have equipment that is immediately available at the point of need. Whilst there were substantial delays across multiple supply chains during the lockdown periods in China and across the world, by having our products manufactured on home soil mean logistical difficulties were minimised.

Oxford Plastics has a long-standing and well-proven reputation in giving the best service and providing superior products to its customers. We manufacture intelligently designed, problem-solving products that make spaces safer, more efficient and effective. We produce safe, secure and compliant products, 75% of which are made from recycled plastic and are 95% recyclable.

Learn more about our products and equipment here, or get in contact with us to see how we can help with your requirements.

Oxford Plastics Top 5 Barriers

We’ve been manufacturing safety equipment and signage for more than three decades and have developed particular expertise when it comes to one of our core product sets; barriers.

Ranging from redirecting pedestrians on busy streets, to open-air gigs right through to today’s social distancing requirements, our barriers have helped thousands of projects and kept millions of people safe. Here is a summary of our top 5 barriers:

  1. OxfordWall

The OxfordWall is designed to be water-filled or sand-filled on-site for strength and durability. When empty, OxfordWall is a light, blow-moulded barrier; it stacks efficiently for easy transport and assembly.

OxfordWalls are made of UV stabilised polythene and are normally supplied in red or white. Designed for traffic delineation through and around work sites, the OxfordWall can create strong and safe cycle lanes and pedestrian access; crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic and the stringent social distancing guidelines. It is highly visible to road traffic users and is fast and easy to deploy.

  1. StrongWall® Barrier

The StrongWall® barrier is heavy-duty, robust and strong, providing safe access for pedestrians through highways and construction works. The 18kg base, made from recycled plastics, weights the barrier for strong stability. The walls interlock using a pin and bucket locking system to prevent being dismantled or tampered with.

The barrier is non-corrosive and non-conductive with compact stacking for easy transport and handling. Colours and customisation are available to ensure the StrongWall represents our clients’ brand.

This heavy-duty, wind-resistant barrier can help keep cyclists, pedestrians and road traffic separated and safe. This system provides safe access and protection for semi-permanent or long-term use, throughout the year.

  1. StrongFence Barrier

The StrongFence barrier is an extension of the patented StrongWall® Barrier.

Enhanced Barrier, 2m tall for use at deep excavations. 100% plastic, non-conductive, used in Street Works & Construction jobs, in sub-stations,

  1. Avalon® Chapter 8 Plastic Safety Barrier

The Avalon® is our most popular barrier and suitable for pedestrian and cycle lane delineation. It is Chapter 8 compliant and perfect for semi-permanent, temporary and short-term requirements.

The barrier is available in 2m, 1m and 0.5m wide and can be used on uneven ground; ideal for temporary road surfaces or on non-paved surfaces.

The barriers are available with the standard Avalon® linking system or the tube end linking system. Different feet can be selected dependent on customer requirements, and this safety barrier is customisable to ensure corporate colours and branding if needed.

  1. SafeGate Portable Gate Barrier

The SafeGate barrier is designed for use around temporary excavations and commonly used in the communications industry and guarding manholes. Perfect for creating safe access and controlled entry to specific areas, it is ideal for temporary or semi-permanent solutions in environments such as schools, airports and high streets.

Made from high-density polyethylene and small enough to fit in the back of a van, the SafeGate Barrier is ideal for single person worksites. It is very lightweight and can be erected in seconds.

Oxford Plastics has a long-standing and well-proven reputation in giving the best service and providing superior products to its customers. We manufacture intelligently designed, problem-solving products that make spaces safer, more efficient and effective. We produce safe, secure and compliant products, 75% of which are made from recycled plastic and are 95% recyclable.

Learn more about our products and equipment here, or get in contact with us to see how we can help with your requirements.

Steel road plates vs plastic road plates

When it comes to covering trenches or holes, it’s likely a road plate will be applied to ensure that the area can operate effectively, and it does not pose a danger to the public. However, which type of road plate should you use? And what are the benefits and disadvantages of both? Learn more from our guide will compare steel road plates to plastic road plates.

Which road plate should you use?

So, what are the best type of road plates to use? Using the correct road plate for the trench or hole you are covering is vital – as, by using the wrong type of plate, this can lead to complications. Here at Oxford Plastics, we specialise in safe, simple and compliant equipment that is 100% plastic. Here’s some of the reasons why plastic road plates are more beneficial to use than steel road plates:

  • Stability – steel road plates (due to the rigid nature of their material) can be a lot less stable than plastic road plates. This can create an uneven surface, which can be dangerous to vehicle or pedestrians who are travelling over it.
  • Noise pollution – typically, steel road plates also create a lot more noise pollution than plastic road plates would. In some places around the world, in New York city for example, if the noise decibels reach a certain level, large fines can be put into place. Whereas plastic road plates have significantly reduced noise pollution.
  • Man-power – plastic road plates are typically a lot lighter and easier to move than steel road plates. This means that, to fit a plastic road plate, you would only ever require one person – and they would be able to move this on their own. However, a steel road plate would require more people – which may not always be feasible at short notice. Similar to the noise decibel fine, in New York city, if a pothole is not covered in a timely fashion then substantial fines can be put into place. If people are lifting a steel road plate to cover a pothole, this is likely to take more time as more people will be required to help – with a plastic plate, this would allow a single person to cover the pothole, and respond as quickly, as is necessary.
  • Durability – there is a greater durability with plastic road plates than there is with steel. Steel will bend and degrade after a period of time, but plastic road plates will retain their shape and structure for a longer period of time. They have been designed this way in order to make the road plates more durable and effective, providing a better solution for construction workers and road users.

Now you’ve learnt the benefits of choosing plastic road plates over steel road plates, browse our full selection of plastic road plates now. As well as road plates, here at Oxford Plastics, we also supply a wide range of trench covers and wheelchair ramps. For more information on our plastic road plates, get in touch with a member of our expert team today.

EnduraSign Xtra – Miles Above The Rest

Having compliant, reliable equipment is fundamental in Street Works to make sure the job runs without avoidable issues. Neil Derrick, Senior General Foreman for Morgan Sindall, tried the new EnduraSign Xtra from Oxford Plastics and was extremely impressed with the results.

Durable, stable & weighted

“I have checked all signs this morning after a massive storm overnight and they have all stayed in place and erect,” said Neil. Over 1 month, and through a series of stormy nights, Neil deployed 21 EnduraSign Xtras along Station Road in Cardiff. Despite the stormy weather, the EnduraSign Xtra stayed put.

Saves time, money & improves site safety

“The EnduraSign Xtra makes a massive, massive difference; they stand the wind. In the last month since I’ve been using them not a single one has been blown over. It’s also about the company image, and your site doesn’t get fined by the Street Works Inspector. The metal signs with 2 sandbags blow down every day – I used to spend an hour each day to pick them up. The metal ones are too rigid – they’re quite dangerous, but the EnduraSign Xtra flexes if it’s hit by traffic.” – Neil Derrick – Morgan Sindall

Old Vs New


The EnduraSign Xtra is fitted with 2 EnduraSign Ballasts which give the temporary street works sign category A wind-resistance.

Get in touch!

Find out more information on the EnduraSign Xtra here. Want to find your local stockist or receive a price list for the EnduraSign Xtra? Get in touch here.

Cheap Trench Cover

When Cheap Ain’t Cheerful: A Health & Safety Nightmare


In recent years the trench cover market has seen a rise in cheap composite trench covers. In many ways they look like a typical composite trench cover; they are plastic, yellow and have anti-skid on the surface. However it doesn’t take long for a cheap composite trench cover to look like a health & safety nightmare!


Cheap Trench Cover

Oxford Plastics Trench Covers


This picture shows a Chinese trench cover that has cracked to reveal a gaping hole in the resident’s driveway. Lucky for this resident, someone quickly came along to replace the defective trench cover with a LowPro 15/10 Driveway Board






A cheap imitation is just that: an unsuitable mock-up of the original. Oxford composite covers are designed for purpose, like the LowPro 15/10 Driveway Board, or the 12/8 Safe Cover. We test our trench covers over and above the safety requirements to leave our customers feeling full of confidence, instead of full of dread!


Feel confident in your work site; be safe and be compliant with Oxford Plastic’s trench covers.