Finding a Better Way


With the most recent availability of Easilift, a set of two lifting handles that lock into the LowPro 23-05, installation of the 23-05 is easier and more ergonomic.

Oxford Plastics Offers Versatile Trench Cover Solutions

For more than a decade, Oxford Plastics has been providing solutions to the recurring problems inherent within the underground utility construction industry, namely slow and expensive trench cover installations, health and safety liability, and several other issues regarding steel plates.

And then there’s the compliance issues with city, state and federal authorities that should be adhered to. Beyond safety issues, not being in compliance can add considerable cost to a contractor. To address these issues, Oxford Plastics has developed the Oxford LowPro 23-05 Composite Road Plate, which was a finalist in the NASTT Innovation Award this spring. It’s understandable as to why Oxford Plastics was a qualifier for this distinction. Oxford Plastics has been collaborating with the utilities and utility contractors for years.

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One contractor using the product is Joseph L. Balkan Sewer & Water Main Specialists, based in New York City. David Balkan, CEO, says that the product has helped the company in many ways. Recently, it helped the company stay in compliance and avoid a $1,200 fine.

Balkan received notice from New York City Department of Transportation one rainy late Sunday evening, regarding a 28-in. deep washout at the edge of a roadway where Balkan had worked. If they didn’t respond within three hours, there would be a $1,200 fine. Balkan recalls, “There was virtually no time to fill the hole, tamp, and blacktop with specialized equipment, within three hours. However, one employee, picking up the Oxford trench cover, placing it in his vehicle, delivering it and putting it in place, took under an hour. The site was safe, there was no summons issued, and no more sinking through the very heavy rains overnight. Win, win, win.”

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Balkan was seeking an alternative to steel plates, frustrated with the handling and placing dangers. Balkan was averaging one to two injuries a year related to their use. A public utility recommended the Oxford alternatives.

“Safety was the No. 1 reason for using Oxford covers, and now every one of our crews use them every single day,” Balkan said. “Oxford has helped us be safer, more efficient and more profitable.”

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Over 10 years ago, in the United Kingdom, London was seeking a product that would allow trenches to be covered on their roadways, in compliance, and reduce traffic delays. Working with National Grid UK, Oxford Plastics developed the first LowPro 15-05 composite road plates. Continuing to collaborate with the utilities and contractors in the United States, Oxford Plastics has developed a series of road plates and trench covers designed to address various load rating requirements and applications.

The LowPro 15-05 and LowPro 23-05 are modular systems with interlocking sections, that can be installed by two crew members. This eliminates the need for specialized equipment, and the cost and time required to do so. The modular sections can be put into the back of a crew truck, and installed in minutes. These road plates are HS20-44 load rated.

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The difference between the LowPro 15-05 and the Low Pro 23-05 is the trench width they are rated for, covering 27-in. wide and 36-in. wide trenches, respectively, when a load rating of up to the weight of a semi-truck or crane is warranted (up to 97,000 lbs). They are both rated to cover wider trenches, when the load requirement is reduced. The 23-05 can also be used for sidewalk work, safely covering up to a 4-ft wide trench. As the road plates are modular, you can cover any length of trench by interlocking more sections.

Oxford composite road plates are especially popular with utility companies working on gas, water, electricity and fiber-optic services. Contractors are finding Oxford products much easier and safer to lift into place than heavy steel plates – and much more stable and durable than plywood.

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Mike Hevey, P.E., of JH Lynch Construction said, “I came across Oxford’s composite road plates in an article in a trade publication and thought they would be a great fit for a National Grid project, where we were burying power lines. The project required trenching across driveways and cross streets in a residential development. Because Oxford’s plates can be installed with two men, we were able to run smaller machines. Combining that, with how much quicker and safer Oxford plates are to set, we ended up with huge cost savings.”

With the most recent availability of Easilift, a set of two lifting handles that lock into the LowPro 23-05, installation of the 23-05 is easier and more ergonomic. In varying parts of the United States, requirements for a trench cover differ. For safety reasons, in most states, ramping to a trench cover is required, often done with cold patch. The Oxford road plates and several of their trench covers have a chamfered Flexi-Edge, eliminating the need to ramp with cold patch.

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Neighborhoods appreciate the noise reduction from Oxford’s pliable Flexi-Edge. When vehicles are traversing steel plates, noise echoes within the streets. The Flexi-Edge can reduce this soundtrack of urban noise, eliminating complaints. Oxford’s patented Flexi-Edge grip technology also greatly reduces unwanted movement.

Additionally, underside pins within the road plate drop into the trench when installed to prevent lateral movement. In most states, to reduce slips and trips, an anti-skid surface is required. Some require the cover be painted or taped yellow for safety.

Dan Buckley, Senior Vice President of Anchor Construction and NUCA Chairman-Elect, remarked: “The Oxford products have the high-visibility yellow and the anti-skid surface molded within the cover, eliminating the need to reapply anti-skid paint or tape.” This usually is an ongoing maintenance cost for other covers.

Buckley has used Oxford trench covers for the past few years in the Washington, D.C., area. “When addressing safety, traffic and DOT requirements, Oxford covers solve almost every one of my problems. Safety is No. 1, and No. 2 is the increased production we get from these plates. Every day, each work crew is gaining 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes, by using Oxford products; that is pure money.”

This article was contributed by Oxford Plastics. Web:

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