Manhole – Service Covers

Manhole Covers – Anti Skid

For the Riders Voice - Click Here Following the “It’s Not Rocket Science” theme, the following statement can not be argued against – metallic manhole or service covers, offer almost no traction, and are slippery when wet.

The latest addition to helping “fight” for improvements in Highway Design and thus improved Road Safety is the “Riders Voice”.

The Riders Voice has taken action to investigate the causes of accidents and to provide statistical analysis surrounding the whole highway defects problem via an on-line survey.

By submitting, anonymously, details of your accident, however large or small and regardless of the damage/injury caused, you will assist Riders Voice in lobbying for change, with statements that address the actual condition of our highways and with statistics that support the needs of decision makers, who in turn will hopefully bring about change.

However physically there are options available to road authorities and agencies to improve and maintain a skid-resistance that stops manhole/service covers from remaining slippy.

The latest products that we have been made aware of is “Premark Anti-Skid” which you can read about below.

These compliment previous products, “Grip Top” – “TUFTAC” and the promotion of a composite cover by a motorcycle riders campaign “Get A Grip”.

Read more about the “Riders Voice” on Right To Ride – Click Here


In August 2007 the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) produced a document on Manhole Covers and covered the issue of European Standard EN 124 that manhole covers are manufactured but the standard doesn’t specify minimum grip levels.

In October 2007 the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Association (FEMA) responded to a consultation regarding  CEN124 to amend the standard to require the use of covers with acceptable in-service skid/slip resistance.

FEMA pointed out that  covers are designed for durability in terms of mechanical stability, i.e., they do not break, deform, or displace, not for adequate and sustained levels of skid resistance.

Adding that where grip is required, the standard recommends a texture be applied to the cover. However, in use, the skid resistance of many covers deteriorates rapidly as they become polished by passing traffic. This results in a cover with poor skid resistance compared to the surrounding highway.

FEMA stated that they believed that the surface of the highway should not present avoidable hazards to motorcyclists. That the hazards presented by slippery manhole (inspection) covers are entirely avoidable. The use of covers with acceptable in-service skid/slip resistance could be mandated by the European Standard as a contribution to the EU commitment to reducing road casualties.

Since then it has all gone quiet until Premark made us aware of the work on that they are doing at this standard level.

Premark Anti-Skid”, is also working with the service cover industry to try and get an enhancement (adding to existing covers) accepted as a standard requirement. The standard for covers has been under review since 1999, and is now in its final stages, but the latest draft has greatly reduced the originally proposed Skid Resistance Value (SRV) for covers.

Andy Price from Premark says, “The Highways Agency (Great Britain) in HA104/09 proposed a polished SRV (worn value) value of 60.  This would suggest that the unpolished (new) SRV would be somewhere in the region of 70+.  The standards technical committee have submitted an unpolished SRV of half of that, which is disgraceful to say the least.  I have objected to this figure, as have many of my colleagues.”

Adding, “With support from motorcycling associations and organisations, we can all make a difference.”

“Premark Anti-Skid”

“Premark Anti-Skid”, which is a high performance anti-slip material that works extremely well on steel and iron, is the latest of these products that we have been made aware of.

As regards a three and a half year test of the product, Premark comments that “As far as durability is concerned, the material has been installed for over three and a half years, and is still performing extremely well, and still providing a skid resistance higher than untreated iron covers.”

Northern Ireland – For 2013 Preformed Markings assisted leading specialist highways contractor EMTEK in Northern Ireland, to provide anti-slip solutions to the many manhole covers that stretch along the NW200 Motorcycle Road Race track – Read more

Read more on Premark on Right To Ride – Click Here

Grip Top

Grip Top is a solution that has been around for a few years and has now received a Prince Michael International Road Safety Award.

For motorcycles, scooters and bicycles that are particularly vulnerable to loss of control, from sudden changes of available grip, especially while cornering or braking, or insufficient grip in high demand situations such as sudden braking or swerving to avoid collision, “Grip Top” offers levels of grip comparable to other road surroundings.

The adoption of ‘Grip-Top’ in high risk situations such as bends, roundabouts, traffic lights and other areas where bikers and cyclists typically lose control and become casualties would reduce risk in such danger zones.

The development team of this unique product comprises Saint-Gobain Pipelines for the ironwork, Stirling Lloyd for treatment surface technology and Bristol City Council for the road trials and assessments.

More on Grip Top On Right To Ride – Click Here


TUFTAC is a ductile iron manhole cover and frame, which is inset with an industry unique, special mastic asphalt (MA) formulation.

The ductile iron cover and frame are designed to pass the statutory highway loading requirements but unlike convention ductile iron covers that have a dangerously low skid resistance, the MA surface has a high skid resistance at least equal to the surrounding road surface.

More on this –

Get A Grip

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK) previously launched a “Get A Grip” campaign.

The campaign concentrated on the issue of grip on and worn out inspection covers across the UK and heavily promoted Structural Sciences Limited  SSC composite access covers, as an only solution.

The claim for the covers was that they offered a permanent anti slip surface which lasts 15 years.

The national campaign saw some success in getting local authorities in Great Britain to trial the inspection cover.

The Get A Grip campaign also featured:

Raises awareness of road surface safety issues.

Reports the problem

Works with relevant organisations to create a safer environment for riders.

Campaigns for higher grip, cost effective, road surfaces.

Reduces injuries and costs.

Provides the solution.

IHIE Guidelines for Motorcycling

The IHIE Guidelines for Motorcycling, which we understand Northern Irelands Roads Service takes notice off, sets out several times the issue of Manhole Covers or Service Covers – Utility Covers.

Road Design & Traffic Engineering

When redesigning an existing layout consider the position and level of utility covers, especially on bends and within braking or steering areas. Avoid forcing riders to over-run them whenever possible. If it is unavoidable, use covers with a skid resistance similar to the surrounding road surface.

Motorcycle & Road Safety Audit

Service covers and gully gratings. Locating ironwork out of the wheel tracks of twin track vehicles or on the outside of bends can place them on the line used by motorcycles.

This presents a sudden change in road surface properties leading to stability problems. It should also be noted that water on service covers freezes sooner than water on the surrounding road surface. If the cover cannot be moved, it should be provided with a surface finish compatible with the skid resistance of the surrounding road.

Road Maintenance

One of the most regular problems raised by motorcyclists is that of service covers.

Designers and maintenance engineers should take every opportunity to assess the use of steel service covers in the carriageway and, where relocation is impossible, consider replacement with high skid resistance covers.

The most difficult sites are those where the cover lies on the riding line during a change of direction, either turning a corner, rounding a bend or at roundabouts. Proposals to position new covers within the carriageway, especially at roundabouts, should be discouraged.

The British and European Standard on service covers is under review with the intention of including a requirement for enhanced skid resistance. Anti-skid surfaces can be retro-fitted to covers that cannot be relocated.

Where utility companies intend renewal of apparatus in the road it should be suggested to them that new covers should be a “skid proof” type.

In new developments the local authority should advise on the location of covers and perhaps specify that they are located in service strips in the verge/footway as opposed to the carriageway.


“Premark Anti-Skid” at
Grip Top –
Click Here to Down Load Grip Top Brochure 1.99mb
BMF – Manhole Covers – August 2007 – Version 1 pdf 63kb
FEMA – A Consultation Response October 2007 pdf 204kb
IHE Guidelines for Motorcycling –
Get A Grip –

Full Story on Grip Top and Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards  Click Here

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