How to mitigate risks to animals on construction sites

Modern construction sites operate with a commitment to protecting the local environment, and that includes any wildlife that makes its habitat in the area.

Safeguarding animals that live on and around your construction or demolition site can help to protect your brand reputation, as well as avoiding delay and disruption to your project.

Timber mats are one way to do this. By keeping a stock of ground protection mats nearby, you can cover over all kinds of ground-level hazards, to avoid the nasty shock of finding trapped or injured animals on-site when you arrive in the morning.

Cover holes and trenches

Ground excavations are a common part of construction work, to lay pipes and other utilities, to build foundations, and for various other reasons.

When you leave excavations open, especially overnight, you run the risk of wildlife falling in and being unable to get back out.

Timber mats are a quick and easy way to cover any exposed trenches and holes, for the safety of wildlife and humans alike, and can be removed easily when work resumes the next day.

Prevent muddy quagmires

A hole full of mud can be even more dangerous than an empty trench, especially for smaller creatures who might get completely bogged down by even a shallow pool of wet mud.

Bog mats can span wet and muddy ground, providing immediate protection for wildlife, while reducing the damage done to the ground or infrastructure underneath.

Ideally, put bog mats into position from the start of the project, so the tyres and tracks of heavy plant cannot churn the ground into mud and this risk is avoided completely.

Protect wet concrete

Equally as bad as getting stuck in mud, wet concrete also presents a hazard and a potential threat to life for small wildlife creatures.

Even if an animal makes it across your concrete without getting stuck, they are likely to leave paw prints in the surface, so on this occasion timber mats protect the wildlife and the concrete itself.

This helps you to deliver a high-quality finish, without the delays and additional costs of having to re-lay concrete that has been unwittingly defaced by birds’ footprints or mammals’ paw prints.

For more information on any of our timber mats and how we can help your project please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

How bog mats can prevent damage to underground infrastructure

Bog mats provide protection on many levels – quite literally. Above ground, they help to keep vehicles, personnel and materials safe while work is carried out, while at ground level they prevent unnecessary damage to exposed soil and other surfaces.

However, it’s below ground where the benefits of bog mats are often overlooked, despite the potential for massive costs and disruption in the event of damage to underground infrastructure, most notably in civil engineering works.

Laying bog mats provides a physical barrier between above-ground activities and any pipes and conduits buried beneath the surface. Ground protection mats dissipate pressure and other forces more evenly, and reduce the risk of penetrating any undetected voids.

Types of underground damage prevented by bog mats

It’s quick, easy and affordable to lay bog mats across an entire site, to create a stable working platform, support the forces exerted during lifting operations, and keep feet and wheels out of the mud.

All of this helps to reduce disruption underground too, preventing several different potential kinds of damage to underground infrastructure:

  • Heavy plant tyres, tracks or outriggers breaking through into underground voids.
  • Excessive forces leading to cracks and leaks in underground water mains.
  • Dangerous disruption to utilities including gas pipes and electricity conduits.

In addition, there is an increasing amount of high-value data infrastructure hidden below ground, ranging from copper cables to fibre optics, all of which can be time-consuming and costly to repair in the event of an interruption due to damage from above.

How do bog mats prevent underground damage?

Bog mats distribute forces over a larger area – think of them like snowshoes for your heavy plant, to prevent it from sinking into the ground where the earth is soft or fragile.

During transportation of wide or heavy loads, you should assess the route for any such risks, e.g. underground fuel storage tanks or basements, and use appropriate ground protection mats to reduce the pressure exerted on any one part of the ground above.

However, it’s a good idea to create a solid working platform no matter what underground infrastructure you have detected, as this can also prevent interruptions due to bad weather, or costly work to ‘make good’ the terrain when a project is complete.

If you are looking for more information or wish to contact us regarding our ground protection mats please get in touch here.

How to quickly prepare a construction site

With a backlog of delayed and postponed projects to clear as we move beyond the Coronavirus pandemic, the next challenge for the construction industry will be to work as efficiently as possible to complete work quickly and maximise bounce-back revenues.

One way to do this is by preparing construction sites quickly for work to get underway as soon as possible – so what should you prioritise when planning a new construction project?

1. Clear the site

First of all, you’ll need to clear any waste materials and other unwanted debris from the site.

This must be disposed of in an appropriate (and legal) way, so make sure you know the rules that apply to different materials and any controlled or hazardous substances.

You may want to have temporary road mats on hand so that as you clear an area, you can lay an access road for vehicles to reach deeper into the site.

2. Plan the layout

A good site plan will get things running more quickly and much more smoothly on day one, as everyone will know where they need to be.

Give some thought to which areas need to be left clear to build on, and work around these to position materials and machinery, semi-permanent access roads for the duration of the project, and any other spaces you need to demarcate.

3. Lay ground protection mats

Ground protection mats can be laid in minutes and serve all kinds of purposes, all of which help keep construction work on track.

Timber bog mats are easy to move and can be used to create temporary roadways and pedestrian walkways, staging areas for materials, operating platforms for machinery, and general ground protection against falling debris.

4. Safety first

Remember to assess any risks to health and safety due to the site’s geography, any utilities or infrastructure on-site, and other relevant concerns.

Again, ground protection mats can help to reduce many safety risks by putting a barrier underfoot, creating a clean work area, and distributing the weight of machinery and vehicles over a larger surface area.

With this simple four-step plan, you can be underway without delay, with a well organised, safe and efficient construction site from day one. For any further information on how we can help to protect your worksite, please get in touch here.

How to prevent floods on construction sites

The spring months are one of the wettest times of year, and with the increase in daylight hours, more construction sites will be seeing more activity too.

When there’s a downpour at any time of year, a flood is a risk. But in spring, with the groundwater level already high from winter, construction site flood risks are even greater.

After a flood, it’s not just a case of waiting for the water to dry up and then getting back to work. Floodwater can be contaminated by pest droppings, especially if it’s come up from the sewers, among other things and clean-up can be costly and time-consuming.

Here’s our guide to preventing floods on construction sites, and how to recover from a construction site flood when one occurs.

Less mud, less flood

One way to proactively prevent construction site floods is to use ground protection mats from the start of your project, to stop heavy machinery and vehicles from breaking up the ground surface.

When it rains, any broken-up loose soil can quickly turn to mud, as well as washing into drains and blocking grates, all of which leaves the rainwater with nowhere to go – and that’s when you get a flood.

If you’re working on a site where debris is inevitable, consider putting a bog mat over any exposed drains on dry days so they don’t get blocked – just remember to uncover the drain in wet weather so the excess water can escape.

After a downpour

If heavy rain has left your construction site flooded, have some timber mats ready to create dry, safe working platforms – there’s a reason why we call them bog mats.

Hardwood timber mats can cope well in direct contact with waterlogged ground, and can even be used in tidal areas and marshland, so even a deep puddle shouldn’t be a problem for them.

In deeper floodwater, stack timber mats in alternating alignment (similar to the criss-cross of rails and sleepers on a railway) to lift them above the water level so clean-up or construction work can continue.

We have timber mats for sale and to hire, so if you’re facing an unpleasant weather forecast at any point, get your order in ahead of time to avoid any delays to your delivery date.

Which size bog mat should I use?

Choosing the right size bog mat doesn’t have to be too difficult. Often you can be guided by the job you are working on, including the ground conditions, the type of traffic – pedestrian, vehicle or heavy plant – and the amount of weight you need to spread over a larger area.

Timber mats serve a range of different purposes. On soft ground, they can be a way to create a stable platform and to distribute pressure more evenly to prevent machinery from sinking.

Alternatively, they can be used as a demarcation system to show the route that should be taken along temporary walkways and temporary access roads. This can help you to choose the best size bog mats for the job.

What size are bog mats?

Bog mats normally come one metre wide, and either three or five metres long. Regardless of thickness, most of the timber mats for sale and hire on our website are either 1m x 3m or 1m x 5m.

You can easily place multiple mats alongside each other to cover a larger area, for example to create a staging area for materials, a parking zone for vehicles, or a lifting platform for cranes.

Alternatively, place bog mats end to end for a long, narrow line that can work well as a temporary walkway for pedestrians, especially where space is at a premium and you don’t want a wide walkway.

How thick are bog mats?

In terms of thickness, there are several options to choose from:

· 70mm bog mats for loads up to 35 tonnes

· 100mm bog mats for loads up to 45 tonnes

· 150mm bog mats for loads up to 60 tonnes

For even heavier loads, we can supply 200mm and 250mm timber mats, in sizes of 1m x 6m. These are some of our most durable timber mats for heavy-duty operations, and for use on very soft ground such as in tidal areas.

Where are temporary roads required?

Bog mats are a good way to create temporary roads and temporary walkways wherever they are needed. They are easy to transport, easy to place in position, and connect together to create a stable roadway with no breaks in it.

In practice, there are very few limits on where temporary roads can be used. Bog mats are versatile and hard-wearing, and can be used in environments where other temporary road mats are not suitable.

For example, timber mats can be used in tidal zones and marshland, and can be stacked in an H-shape to raise the roadway up above the water level if required.

Some other examples of where temporary roadways are required include:

  • To distribute pressure more evenly across soft or waterlogged ground
  • To bridge small gaps, gulleys or underground voids along a route
  • To create a temporary access road to a work site with no vehicle access

The last of those points is very broad and gives an idea of how versatile temporary road mats can be, to create a vehicular route on to all kinds of active work sites.

Just some examples of this are:

  • Grassy fields at risk of churning into mud slicks
  • Wetlands, marshy ground and coastal sites
  • Sites that are ordinarily inaccessible e.g. drained canals

Temporary roadways can also be laid for convenience. For example, if you are hosting an event such as a festival on farmland or similar, a temporary roadway can signal the route for vehicles to take, using ground protection mats to preserve the grass beneath.

Equally on a construction site, a temporary roadway can be used to protect the permanent roadway beneath, so there is no damage to rectify due to rugged tyres and tracks driving over the road surface while the work is carried out.

So temporary roads serve several different purposes:

  • Access
  • Convenience
  • Protection

You can of course create a separate temporary pedestrian walkway to keep people away from vehicle routes, which further enhances safety on sites with public access.

To find out more about our temporary road mats for hire and for sale, please contact Timbermat today and we can help you decide what you need for your future projects.

How has the construction sector been affected by COVID-19 and how can it bounce back?

Like most of the UK economy, the construction sector has had to adapt quickly to changing rules and regulations since the outbreak of COVID-19.

But while the restrictions seem to change on an almost weekly basis, there is hope that by the spring, a greater sense of permanence will become possible as the first successful vaccines start to roll out to substantial parts of the population.

With that in mind, what can we expect from 2021? And which of the changes we have made this year are likely to become part of common practice, even once the pandemic is over?

Remote working and COVID-safe construction

One of the biggest changes across the economy as a whole is the massive and overnight uptake of remote working, especially in administrative and clerical roles.

While on-site construction clearly cannot be carried out remotely, efforts have been made to reduce human contact, with crew working alone or in workplace ‘bubbles’, deliveries of materials carried out in a distanced way, and employees working from home if possible.

A lot of this will not be necessary once the pandemic ends, but site managers may prefer to continue assigning tasks to smaller teams who stay together, as well as organising deliveries of materials more clearly with one designated individual to liaise with the delivery driver.

Admin and organisation

The key element in all of this has been organisation, planning and admin. Back-office staff have been home-based and dialling in via telephone, email or video conference.

On-site, COVID-control has been the watchword. Areas are designated to be accessed only by specific bubbles or individuals, allowing work to continue without overlap or delay, and this holds promise as a long-term way to maintain an efficient construction site.

We have seen innovative uses for our timber mats, from creating separate staging areas for work to continue at necessary distance, to one-way temporary access roads and temporary pedestrian pathways with a separate site entrance and exit.

For the future

Activity will bounce back – it always does, eventually – and many of the practices devised during 2020 will still be beneficial under ‘normal’ circumstances.

Whether that’s versatile use of timber mats for ground protection, temporary roadways and staging areas on-site, or the continued use of remote working for admin staff, all remains to be seen.

First and foremost, we need to get well clear of the tail end of the pandemic. Until then, Timbermat will continue to work closely with our customers and suppliers to keep the construction sector COVID-safe, while allowing crucial economic activity to carry on.

Preparing your site for timber mats: what you should do beforehand

Timber mats are an easy way to put in place ground protection, temporary roadways, and lifting platforms that combine crane mats with outrigger pads.

Generally speaking, it’s fast and easy to lay timber mats on-site, but there are still some best practice tips and tricks to keep in mind when preparing to lay bog mats and keep your construction site safe.

Here are five things to remember when getting ready to lay timber mats on a construction site or other location.

1. Access

If you plan to build a stable working platform in the middle of a wetland area or tidal zone, remember you will need to get your bog mats there in the first place.

Make sure you have a clear access route in mind – you could even hire extra bog mats to create a temporary roadway so that the rest of your timber mats can be delivered to the right location.

2. Quantity and type

It should go without saying that you need to know how many bog mats you need and what type of timber mats to use, but it’s worth putting some extra thought into this.

For example, the quantity you need might depend on which way around you lay your mats – so check whether they should be laid end-to-end or with their longest edges adjacent, as this will affect the length of roadway or size of platform you can create.

3. Duration and durability

An extra factor when choosing the type of timber mats you need is their durability and how long you want to leave them in place.

Choose a higher durability of tropical hardwood mat for challenging environments, such as tidal areas and completely waterlogged wetlands.

4. Lifting machinery

Check if your chosen timber mats have lifting points for a forklift truck or equivalent lifting tool, such as a hand-pumped trolley jack.

Remember if you plan to use lifting equipment to move your bog mats into place, you’ll need a safe working platform for that equipment, which may mean a little hand-lifting to put the first ground protection mats down and create the initial dry access route.

5. Fixtures and fittings

Finally, be aware of any additional bolts or brackets that you can use to secure adjacent mats to one another, so you’re ready to add them as you go along.

This can be especially important in tidal zones, where the water currents can shift mats out of position, so keep them safe and secure using any appropriate method for a single solid platform throughout your job.

Common risks on construction sites that timber mats mitigate

Timber mats mitigate a wide range of different risks on construction sites, including some of the most common everyday issues encountered by building crews.

Because bog mats are often referred to as ground protection mats, it’s easy to think they just protect the ground beneath your work area – but they can do so much more.

Ground Protection Mats

When you just need to protect the ground you’re working on, bog mats are a cost-effective option.

They’re easy to move into place, cover large areas quickly, and provide a physical barrier against muddy ground – or to prevent grassy land from getting churned into mud by building site activity and rugged vehicle tyres.

Crane Lifting Platforms

Timber mats can be used to construct stable crane lifting platforms. They help to spread pressure on the ground more evenly and can also spread the forces exerted by outriggers.

It’s still important to check that the ground can take the weight of your crane or other lifting vehicle, but timber crane mats can reduce the risk of breaking through the floor into any individual voids below the surface.

Demolition Protection

What goes up must come down, and timber mats make excellent demolition protection mats, to catch rubble and other falling debris instead of leaving it to impact the exposed ground.

Even if this damages the timber mat beyond further future use, the low-cost materials used and recyclable nature of wood mean this is preferable to damaging a road or pavement that must then be reinstated at significant expense.

Temporary Roadways

As temporary roadways, bog mats can solve a range of risks, by showing safe routes for traffic, creating one-way systems, and segregating vehicles from pedestrians.

They can also be used to create temporary pathways for visitors to the site, so you don’t face the risk of members of the public walking unannounced into active work areas.

Wetlands and Tidal Zones

When working in wetlands and in tidal areas, timber mats are an easy and effective way to keep vehicles and equipment in the dry.

They can be stacked in a criss-cross H-shaped configuration – similar to trainline rails laid on top of sleepers – to provide extra height and stay above changing water levels while work is safely carried out.

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