How to protect ground at festivals

A proactive approach to protecting ground at festivals can make a big difference to the cost of staging your event – a relatively small investment in ground protection mats for hire or sale can save a lot of money on putting the ground back as it was afterwards.

There will always be some damage or disruption after a major event, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect ground at festivals. Instead, you should aim to minimise the damage as much as possible using sensible, affordable methods like trackway mats.

What happens to the ground at a festival?

Outdoor festivals can be held on all kinds of ground, but it’s when they’re held on grass or bare earth that the damage can be most severe.

Soft ground is easily trampled, compacted and kicked about by pedestrians, especially dancing crowds. Worse still, if it rains, all that earth is going to turn into mud, and we’ve all seen the state of British music festivals in rainy summers in the past.

When the rain stops, the ground can be baked solid by the summer sun, making it even more difficult to flatten out any deep ruts or lumps and bumps in the surface – which is why prevention is better than cure.

How do ground protection mats help?

Ground protection mats do more than just put a barrier between feet and earth. Their large area helps to spread the pressure of people, vehicles and equipment passing above.

By distributing pressure more evenly, you remove the potential for individual footprints or tyre tracks. The weight is divided by the area of the mat, so any one point on the ground beneath experiences less force than it otherwise might.

Large numbers of ground protection mats can be laid seamlessly alongside one another, so no matter what area your festival covers, you can create a single, flat and consistent floor for your event.

Why choose trackway mats for festivals?

The availability of ground protection mats for hire means you can rent our trackway mats when you need them, without storing them between events.

Without further regulation changes, there will likely be a huge surge in festivals this summer and our trackway mats can help to saving huge amounts of damage to the land whilst providing your festival attendees a significantly more pleasant surface under foot.

To find out more about ground protection for festivals, call Timbermat today on 0800 012 12 31 or email info@timbermat.co.uk and a member of our specialist team will get back to you as soon as possible.

How to prevent floods on construction sites

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, especially if it’s come up from the sewers, 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.

And finally, we stock emtek® heavy equipment mats which use a unique laminated billet construction to deliver strength and performance at just 89mm thick. These measure 1.75m x 4.9m and are designed for the most challenging conditions, including on environmentally sensitive sites such as wetlands.

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.

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