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.

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.

Construction site hazards

How to stay safe on a construction site

The construction industry provides a workplace environment that presents high risks and hazards to workers; often requiring the use of heavy tools, large machinery and plant, as well as coming into contact with hazardous materials. It is important to be able to identify hazards on a construction site – and understand how to avoid them. Learn more about how to stay safe on a construction site from our detailed guide.

Top building site hazards to be aware of

  • Working at height
    Working at height is one of the most common construction site hazards. In 2015/16, The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that over a quarter of fatalities at work were from falling from height. Working at height must be properly supervised, planned and should be avoided, where possible. Equipment with extra safety measures, such as double guard rails for scaffolding, should be used to reduce risk of fatalities, and safety nets can be used to minimise the consequences of a fall.
  • Noise
    You don’t need to work on a construction site to be familiar with the high noise levels that come from this sort of work. However, noise is a common construction hazard – as loud and repetitive noises can cause long-term hearing problems. Therefore, the right ear protective equipment must be used. Loud noises from building work can also create distractions, which can lead to accidents. Employers are required to carry out a comprehensive noise risk assessment, which will lead to issuing the correct PPE for the job.
  • Moving objects
    As building sites are ever-changing environments, they can quickly become hectic workplaces when objects are continually moving. This could include overhead lifting equipment, diggers and supply vehicles. Workers should avoid working closely to these objects if possible, while being constantly vigilant of their surroundings and wearing PPE where necessary – for example, a high visibility jacket to ensure they are seen more easily.
  • Instability
    Slips, trips and falls are common construction site hazards. This is due to the instability of the environment construction workers are subjected to – for example, uneven terrain and incomplete buildings. Stairwells and footpaths should be used in order to avoid falls as well as providing designated walkways, such as temporary zebra crossings, for construction workers to travel around the site safely. Obstacles, such as excess material and cables, should be removed to avoid instability – and wet or slippery surfaces should be treated with grit and properly sign posted.
  • HAVS
    Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), also known as ‘blue finger’, is a disease which debilitates the blood vessels, joints and nerves. This is usually caused by the prolonged and consistent use of hand power tools, which provide a vibration through the hand and arm. HAVS can be prevented by wearing the appropriate protection equipment when using vibrating tools, and the equipment itself being regularly assessed and maintained.
  • Electricity
    Naturally with a construction site, there will likely be electricity running through various circuits, especially through electrical live parts, which is something workers need to be aware of. This can be a hazard if you touch the live parts directly or come into contact with overhead or underground power cables, which can cause electric shocks. This can then lead to falls from ladders, scaffolds or other work platforms, which can in turn lead to fatalities.
  • Asbestos
    Asbestos is a natural fibrous rock that can often be found hidden in public buildings that construction workers will have to come into contact with. This harmful material initially acts as an insulator, keeping heat in or the cold out, but is one of the biggest occupational disease risks to construction workers. It can lead to mesothelioma – a cancer of the lung lining – and asbestos-related lung cancer; both of which are almost always fatal. Employers must undertake a risk assessment of the site to ensure there is no asbestos, or, if there is, that this is identified and recorded, and anyone carrying out work in the area is notified.
  • Respiratory diseases
    With building sites comes the risk of airborne fibres and materials, which can cause damage to your lungs, and cause respiratory problems. As the dust on construction sites is often not easy to spot with the naked eye, it’s hard to know that it contains a toxic mixture of hazardous materials, which can lead to diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, silicosis or asthma. Employers not only need to issue PPE, but they must ensure that this PPE is used by their workers.
  • Unintended collapse
    Excavations and trenches can collapse unintentionally on construction sites at any time, which can lead to workers being buried or seriously injured. This is especially common with building demolitions or buildings under construction. Precautions must be taken before construction work starts on these buildings, including considering what support is best suited for the trench ensuring the trench is secure; and regular inspections of any excavations to be completed before and after the work shift.

Now we’ve covered the top building site hazards to be aware of, and how to stay safe on a construction site, familiarise yourself with our construction site safety solutions to ensure you are as safe as you can be on site. From Avalon safety barriers to highwayman cones, Oxford Plastics’ wide selection has you covered. Get in touch with a member of our expert team for more information on avoiding construction hazards.

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.

construction site

Preparing your Construction Site for the Change in Season

As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, many of us around the UK will be making adjustments to accommodate the changing weather. From wrapping up warmer, to protecting ourselves from wet, or icy conditions – the change in season can require a change in habits, particularly on a construction site where safety is of high importance.

Plan ahead this Autumn

It’s the perfect time of year to revisit your risk assessments and review any potential hazards on your site, taking into account a change of conditions. In wet, icy weather walkways can become slippery, sites waterlogged and equipment can become hazardous and brittle as it fights against the colder weather.

Planning ahead by ensuring quality, durable materials are used on site, workers are using the correct safety gear and that walkways and main areas of your site are sufficiently covered can significantly reduce the risk of accidents. Not only will this tick that vital site safety box, but will also ensure your projects stay on track, avoiding unexpected delays due to equipment failure.

Quality materials for keeping workers, and pedestrians, safe

We often talk about using quality materials on site – the right products can be the difference between a productive project and one rife with problems and risks! And this is truer than ever as the weather changes. For example, the use of ground protection on site can reduce slippery surfaces, prevent damage to the ground and make access easier – however, these benefits are reduced if your ground protection isn’t suitable for heavy duty use, or isn’t equipped with anti-slip.

The materials you use can help a project run smoothly, without any unexpected slips, hazard or damage – so ensure you use materials suitable for your site.

Stay up-to-date

The one thing you can’t control on your site is the weather. With floods, snow and ice all presenting risks – knowing what to expect each week, or day, can help you plan accordingly. Checking for weather updates in advance means you can keep your workforce updated, take action if you need to reschedule or ensure you have the correct materials onsite to deal with any adverse weather when work can be continued.

Oxford Plastics offer a range of ground protection material that help ensure your site is safe and protected. Learn more about our track mats and ground protection mats, including the EnduraGrid and EnduraMat here.

CSJV Minimum Standards | StrongWall Barrier

As a major project in the construction industry, HS2 requires world-leading standards and quality. Striving to ensure HS2 uses the very best safety equipment available and leading the industry into a new era of construction.

Oxford Plastics StrongWall

The minimum requirement for Footway or Footpath closures, pedestrians or staff segregation and dedicated walkways.

All barriers MUST be of the same style and be in no other colour than red or white. All bases will preferably be yellow.

All barriers MUST use the displayed StrongWall style base and be connected through the entire barriered area.


Where extra security is required Heras style fencing can be used in conjunction with the standard StrongWall style barrier.

When fencing is added to the barriers all safety features including fence clamps MUST be used.

Graphics or promotional displays may be attached to the fencing provided no public site lines are affected.

HS2 is a Costain & Skanska Joint Venture Project: CSJV.

For more information regarding our temporary barrier, temporary fence and plastic barrier products click 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.