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.

At-Risk UK Employees

At Timbermat, we work hard to develop temporary access solutions which help workers navigate even the most unstable of sites as safely as possible. We understand all jobs carry an element of danger, but by understanding the risks involved and which sectors are most likely to see worker injury, everyone can act to mitigate these risks.

We have analysed Government data from 2015 to today to establish exactly where workplace injuries occur and which areas are most at-risk.

The main thing we have discovered is the fact that construction workers continue to be the most likely to suffer fatal injuries at work. While making up around 7% of the UK’s total workforce, construction accounts for 28% of the UK’s fatal accidents at work, with 176 construction workers dying as a result of a workplace accident since 2015. The most of any sector.

Alarmingly, the agricultural sector has seen almost 20% of the UK’s fatal accidents over the last five years despite only making up 1.1% of the total UK workforce, identifying an urgent need to continue acting to identify and mitigate risks in agriculture.

Despite this, agriculture and construction had a much lower injury rate per 100,000 employees than several other sectors. You’re most at risk of suffering a non-fatal injury at work in the manufacturing industry, where we’ve seen an average of 1,870 injuries per 100,000 workers over the last five years. The only other sector to see over 1,000 was the water/waste management sector, with 1,023 per 100,000 – highlighting just how much more common it is to be injured when working in manufacturing than anywhere else.

The infographic below illustrates the key findings from our analysis – you can use the embed code at the bottom of the page to easily embed it on your website.

infographic showing injuries and deaths at work 2015-2020

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Types of hardwood Timbermat uses for bog mats and where they are best used

If you’ve ever wondered what types of hardwood Timbermat use in our ground protection mats, this article is for you. We’ll take a look at our European hardwood and tropical hardwood bog mats, the differences between the types of timber used, and where the mats are best suited for.

European Hardwood

European hardwood timber mats are made of oak or beech, and are a little less durable than their tropical hardwood counterparts.

That doesn’t mean they’re less valuable though. Beechwood timber mats can last up to five years of normal use, and have excellent eco credentials as the wood is relatively locally sourced, making them a great choice for environmentally friendly projects like nature reserves and green building construction.

Oak is much more durable, coming under Class 2 or an expected usable life span of 15 to 25 years. Oak timber mats are a good option for temporary roadways and walkways. They have high crushing strength and can withstand not only pedestrian footfall, but also normal vehicle traffic like delivery trucks and small lifting vehicles.

Tropical Hardwood

Tropical hardwood bog mats are rightly respected for their unbeatable durability and longevity.

At Timbermat we use two tropical hardwood species: Dabema and Ekki. Dabema bog mats are also Class 2, so they should match the 15-25 year life span of our oak timber mats. They’re sometimes referred to as Dahoma or simply as African Teak, and are versatile for use in general ground protection roles, temporary roadways and even piling rig platforms.

Ekki timber mats offer probably the best durability in the world, a Class 1 product lasting 50 years or more if handled reasonably well. Ekki bog mats are especially well suited to wet environments, and they can cope with wetlands, nature reserves and even tidal areas without significantly reducing the usable life span of the timber.

Which type of timber mats should I choose?

This rough guide should have provided you with a rule of thumb for some common applications, and the final decision is often based on durability. We have European hardwood mats and tropical hardwood mats available to buy or to hire.

If you’re still not sure what you need, please contact us – we’ll be happy to help you decide on the best type of timber mats for the 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.

How has Coronavirus impacted the bog mats market?

The Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown hit the UK economy hard, especially those sectors – like construction – that were unable to work from home.

Although some building sites remained open, workers were told to stay more than two metres apart wherever possible, and to make other inconvenient changes to working practices – such as using ladders instead of enclosed lifts to reach upper storeys.

Together with the sites that were unable to operate at all, this has had a chilling effect on the bog mats market in 2020, which has been replicated in many affected countries around the world.

In a report titled Global Bog Mats Market Insights, Forecast to 2026, analysts at QYResearch explain the various roles of bog mats in construction, and how the sector has taken a threefold hit from COVID-19.

“Bog mats are an ideal ground protection solution for creating long-term temporary access roads on to construction sites, and limit the impact on the environment,” the report explains.

“COVID-19 can affect the global economy in three main ways: by directly affecting production and demand; by creating supply chain and market disruption; and by its financial impact on firms and financial markets.”

The financial impact has already been seen with a steep dip in the UK economy during the summer months; however, there is still significant hope that it will bounce back much more rapidly than from a conventional recession such as that of 2008.

With many sectors starting to open back up, albeit with new ‘one metre plus’ social distancing measures in place, demand is starting to return for bog mats and other supplies used across the construction industry and other similar disciplines.

At Timbermat we continue to supply bog mats for sale if you want to secure a supply of your own ground protection mats for upcoming projects, as well as bog mats for hire if you have only a one-off or short-term need.

With activity returning to the construction sector, we will service demand from all our customers to the best of our ability – helping to make sure that the UK economy as a whole can bounce back quickly and strongly from the effects of lockdown.

When is the best time to hire or buy bog mats?

At Timbermat we have bog mats to buy and hire – so how do you know whether to buy or rent bog mats, and when to do so?

First of all, we can answer the question of when to buy or hire timber mats. If you’re looking to hire, just get in touch as soon as possible, and we can make sure we have the right type and quantity ready for when you need them.

If a project is still in the pipeline, that’s fine. It’s better to let us know in advance if possible, so we can stock up or set some of our timber mats to one side as your expected start date approaches.

On the other hand, if you’re thinking about buying bog mats of your own, again there’s no reason to delay. Timber mats have little to no impact on insurance and because they’re made of wood, there’s no great material value, so they are not a security concern.

Customers who buy bog mats from Timbermat usually have an ongoing need for ground protection mats, temporary roadways and lifting platforms, so there’s really no time like the present to stock up.

Should I buy or hire bog mats?

Our tropical hardwood mats are durable and can offer years of repeated use with very little care required – just store them out of the elements when you can and discard any mats if the timbers become broken or badly damaged.

Because they’re easy to store and look after, with no great appeal to thieves, many of our customers choose to buy bog mats so you know you will have them at hand each time you need them.

However, we also know there are several good reasons why you might want to hire bog mats for a single project:

  • No ongoing need for large quantities of timber mats.
  • Nowhere to store them, or no desire to do so.
  • Manage costs on a per-project basis.

For all of these reasons, we try to always have a good supply of tropical hardwood mats available, so you can get the number and type you need, when you need them. Just call Timbermat if you’d like to enquire about availability for an upcoming job.

How are construction activities being impacted by COVID-19?

Many industries have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, not only indirectly by employees self-isolating or otherwise staying at home, but also directly in a variety of different ways.

Construction is one of the sectors most directly hit, with a cliff-edge drop in activity overnight at the start of the outbreak and clear challenges to opening back up.

As we move through the coming months, the restrictions and guidelines on social distancing measures will vary depending on the rate of infection in the community, with implications for construction activity.

Supply chains

The construction industry supply chain is huge and complex. From energy-intensive manufacturers right down to self-employed tradespeople, the skills and materials that go into building a house, commercial premises or infrastructure are vast.

Supply chain disruption will remain a significant threat to construction activity, including getting jobs completed on schedule and on budget, throughout the rest of 2020 and beyond.

Workforce issues

As mentioned above, the availability of skilled and manual labour could be impacted at any time, depending on the number of people who fall ill with COVID-19 or who self-isolate as a precaution.

The incoming track and trace regime aims to isolate anyone who has come into contact with an infected person – so although total infections at any one time should be lower, the number of people who have to stay at home could still be higher.

Construction site safety

Health and hygiene will be watchwords for construction site safety in COVID-19 until a cure or vaccine is found, which could take many months and may not be 100% effective over the long term.

This ranges from hand washing and social distancing, to greater awareness of keeping surfaces clean – something that is not always easy to achieve on building sites.

How Timbermat can help

Timbermat products can help you more than you might think when preparing a building site for work during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Bog mats give you a solid surface to work on, which can be cleaned down regularly. They also help to define a work area so you can control how many people are within that area at any one time.

Finally, if you need more bog mats in order to spread out your workers more to comply with the recommended social distancing measures, we have timber mats for hire and for sale, so you can give all of your employees and contractors the safe space they need.

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