Standard behaviour

The importance of ensuring highway ironwork is “up to standard” cannot be underestimated.

In effect, manhole covers are a bridge, expected to provide safe passage for numerous traffic types and vehicle loads within a variety of locations. They are safety-critical products.

Should a cover fail under the rigours of a busy carriageway or in an area with heavy traffic braking and accelerating, the cost of lane closures and rework can be significant. The cost could be far greater if damage or injuries are caused as a result of failure.

When specifying or selecting highway ironwork, the first thing to know is BS EN 124-2:2015 is the key standard for access covers and gully grates.

It categorises the various places where they may be installed; from Group1, the least demanding environment, through to Group 6, where the highest wheel loads are expected.

The standard provides guidance on the minimum class to be used against each installation group classes by the adoption of a load suffix (in kN) as part of their identification reference.

Carriageways are defined as Group 4 and these require D400 minimum load class covers or above.

Third-party conformity

The standard contains the essence of BS EN 124:1994 which it superseded in March 2017. The 2015 version was a substantial revision to the original 1994 one, adding additional tests covering child safety and stability in the carriageway and is split into one general and five material specific parts.

In its foreword, BS EN124: 2015 stated that it shall be given the status of a national standard, and conflicting national standards should be withdrawn at the latest by March 2017. In addition, the national forward stated that it superseded BS EN 124:1994 which was withdrawn.

Specifiers and users should use ironwork that meets the standard – and which has a third-party conformity mark, such as a Kitemark, to prove it. This is the only way you can be certain the product meets the standard.

The first company to have all its ductile manhole covers and gully grates Kitemarked by the British Standards Institute to BS EN 124-2:2015 was Wrekin Products.

  It goes without saying that planners and specifiers should want to use kitemarked products to assure safety and performance. It is also important to note that many highway authorities state the need for products to conform to the appropriate BS EN124-2:2015 group as a mandatory requirement. 

Commenting on the achievement at the time, Grahame Wackett, Construction Products Group Manager, BSI Group said: “Through initial type testing and assessment of their production processes, Wrekin demonstrated their commitment to the consistent manufacture of products which comply to BS EN 124-2:2015. Unique to BSI, the BSI Kitemark is recognised globally as an independent mark of quality, safety and trust.”

Wrekin has long been a technical leader in the field of highway ironwork and was heavily involved in helping to define BS EN 124-2:2015 – Barry Turner, Wrekin’s Technical Manager, was part of the British Standards Institution’s B/505/04 committee that helped frame the new standard. This year, BSI has confirmed that Barry has been appointed as the new Chairman of its BS EN124 Standard Committee.

Key features

It goes without saying that planners and specifiers should want to use kitemarked products to assure safety and performance. It is also important to note that many highway authorities state the need for products to conform to the appropriate BS EN124-2:2015 group as a mandatory requirement.

The key features of Group 4 D400 manhole covers and gully grates are:

  • Large flange area as opposed to small flange area;
  • Large flange stiffening rib/gusset as opposed to small flange stiffening rib;
  • Large flanges at frame corners as opposed to small flanges at frame corners.

The difference visually is very subtle, but the performance capabilities are quite significant, underlining the importance of a conformity mark.

Wrekin Products is always happy to provide detailed technical information and copies of certification to procurement officers, engineers or site personnel who require them. We are also more than happy to meet with clients to ensure full support is provided.

Ian Gillam, Regional Sales Manager, Wrekin Products