Road matting continues the drive towards safer work sites

Road matting can help to keep active work sites safe, by creating stable temporary roadways for use by construction vehicles until a permanent road surface is laid.

By laying road matting, you can give lifting equipment a solid base to work on, segregate foot traffic from vehicle flows and mark out safe routes across the site, for example avoiding low bridges and overhanging masonry, exposed trenches and other obstacles.

 

For inspiration on these and other safety practices, you can look to the UK’s public roads agency Highways England, which faces additional challenges as much of the work it carries out takes place on roads that are open to public use at the same time.

In its 70th year, the International Road Federation (IRF Global) named Highways England as the winner of its 2018 Global Road Safety Award, recognising the government-run organisation for its commitment to reducing road traffic injuries.

President and CEO of IRF Global C Patrick Sankey said: “The guidelines and contractor oversight practices established by Highways England to eradicate danger on road construction sites are widely praised for their results, and are an inspiration for road agencies worldwide.”

 

Richard Leonard, head of road safety, safety engineering and standards at Highways England, added: “We believe passionately in the safety of everyone using our roads and, although they are among the safest in the world, we are always working hard to improve them.

“We have a long-term goal that no-one should be harmed while travelling or working on our network and are working with others on innovative ideas to achieve that.”

This includes safety guidelines for telehandlers and other lifting equipment used on the road network, to ensure suitable crane mats are placed down to stabilise mobile lifting equipment where the weight needs to be distributed more evenly across the road surface.

 

While most construction sites across other industries are not open to the public while work is being carried out, road matting can protect the workforce against threats both above ground and hidden below the surface.

And on those sites where public access is required, for example because there is a legal right of way or there is no suitable alternative route in the interim, road matting can identify the safe and correct route to take across the site, further reducing the risk of injury.

Types of temporary walkway for construction sites

What type of temporary walkway is best for your project?

Temporary walkway mats are a quick but versatile way to create a safe path across construction sites – so what are the different ways to use them?

You might be surprised that there are actually several options when it comes to laying temporary walkways on construction sites – here are just a few different ways you can do it.

 

Pedestrian walkways

Pedestrian walkways keep foot traffic separate from vehicles and mobile equipment, and can also mark out important routes across construction sites, such as from the gate to the site office.

Because pedestrian walkway mats are easy to move using standard lifting equipment, your pathways can be relaid as and when you need to change the route or clear the area for construction work.

 

High-grip textured walkway mats

For improved safety, especially in wet or muddy conditions, textured walkway mats offer a high-grip surface that is particularly good for improved pedestrian grip.

Our pedestrian walkway mats actually offer two different sizes of grip, depending on which way up you lay the mat, and this allows you to choose between the standard size suitable for general pedestrian use, or the more rugged reverse side for enhanced grip in extreme conditions and for wheeled machinery and vehicles.

 

Heavy-duty combined roadways

If you’re concerned about the total weight of pedestrians, equipment, vehicles and heavy plant passing over your combined roadways, Emtek heavy-duty mats are an excellent option.

Their engineered construction means they can support much higher loads, with interlocking clips to secure multiple mats together and create a smooth, consistent surface free from trip hazards.

 

Should I hire or buy temporary walkway mats

As always, we have stocks of temporary walkway mats to hire or to buy – so the choice is up to you. Low rental prices mean you can create a temporary pathway across a construction site without adding too much to your budget for the project.

Temporary walkway mats to buy mean they are there when you need them – and with the different grip options on each side of the mat, you are not limited to a single method of using the pedestrian walkway mats you buy.

American Oak Quercus Alba crane mats take the strain

Timbermat American Oak Quercus Alba crane mats, temporary roadways and ground protection mats are an excellent option on sites where you need to create a safe and stable platform for heavy-duty mobile equipment and protect against penetrating the surface below.

Already in September we have seen the importance of crane mats in Manchester city centre, after a wheeled crane vehicle broke through the pavement outside the Debenhams department store on Market Street.

Images of the incident posted on social networks show the vehicle at a sideways tilt, with one rugged tyre buried in the broken flagstones and the corner entrance to the store completely blocked as a result. Council workers later fenced off the surrounding pavement, in an attempt to prevent passers-by from being put at risk.

Over a week later, the vehicle still had not been recovered, and it is largely down to chance that the shop has been able to stay open just using other entrances, and the nearby Metrolink service has been able to continue operating too.

American Oak crane mats – thick, heavy, sustainable

Our American Oak Quercus Alba crane mats provide a sustainable way to spread the weight of heavy crane vehicles, delivery trucks and other vehicles and mobile equipment to reduce the risk of putting a tyre or track through a paved surface, or through any other unstable or fragile ground layer.

American white oak is sustainably produced under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, so you know when you buy Quercus Alba crane mats or hire American Oak ground protection mats from Timbermat, you are complying with import regulations and protecting the environment too.

The timber is medium-strength against crushing and bending, with low stiffness, making it ideal to absorb the shocks of heavy equipment passing overhead – the flexibility dissipating the peak forces throughout the mats rather than exerting it on a specific spot at high pressure.

We supply American Oak timber mats in thicker measurements, and in larger sizes, to maximise this dissipation of forces across a larger area, reducing the risk of an incident like the one that took place on Market Street in Manchester earlier this month.

Three ways to use piling rig mats

Piling rig mats can do more than just provide a stable platform on which piling operations can be carried out.

Although this is, of course, a crucial application for piling mats – especially on soft ground or where there may be hidden cavities below the surface – these versatile and durable timber mats can have broader applications than you might realise.

For example, as well as creating a piling platform, the same kind of timber mats can be used to create a temporary roadway, allowing mobile equipment to gain access to the work site and to traverse unstable ground.

Site Access

Use piling rig mats to create an access route to all kinds of work sites. This is ideal where there is no road into a site or where the land around it is soft or boggy.

Piling rig mats can create temporary access roads on some of the most challenging terrain, even including a platform to bring machinery on to a beach or other tidal zone.

Temporary Roadway

Even sites with good access can sometimes benefit from building a temporary roadway for heavy mobile piling rig equipment.

By laying piling rig mats end to end, you can establish a solid and consistent surface, making it easier for mobile equipment to move across the site, whether it is on wheels or on tracks.

In this way you not only improve the operating conditions for your staff and prevent damage to equipment; you also spread the pressure across the land beneath, reducing the risk of tyres getting bogged down or breaking through into cavities below.

Piling Rig Platform

Finally, of course piling rig mats can be used to create a piling platform, with our without a temporary access roadway required.

Piling mats can be used with outrigger pads where appropriate, similar to crane mats, so that if your piling rig has outriggers for extra stability, the outrigger mats dissipate the pressure of these to reduce the risk of toppling on soft ground.

As with all of our timber mats, piling rig mats are versatile and durable, and can help you to bring projects in on time and on budget, even in the most challenging weather conditions and environments.

Why temporary walkway mats matter in dry weather

It’s usually pretty clear why temporary walkway mats are needed in wet weather, providing a dry, solid surface to walk on, improving grip and helping to reduce damage to bare earth below so it does not become sloppy mud.

But temporary walkway mats are equally crucial in dry weather, to protect against a variety of different risks.

Public events

Summer is of course festival season, but is also the time for all manner of other public events, from open days to outdoor leisure activities.

With good weather comes greater footfall, so temporary walkway mats are a must to keep the ground protected while also marking out the appropriate routes for visitors who might be unfamiliar with how to get around your venue, especially if it includes large open fields or neighbouring sites.

Soil compaction

Soil compaction is one risk in prolonged periods of dry weather. As the moisture content of the earth drops, it can be more prone to compacting underfoot.

Temporary walkway mats help reduce soil compaction by removing direct contact with the ground and by spreading the pressure of each footfall; temporary roadway mats can do the same for larger vehicles, too.

Grass protection mats

Parched grass is less able to withstand shocks, as dry, brittle and brown stems may be broken underfoot.

Again, grass protection mats help to tackle this risk and once the job is completed, the timber mats can be removed and the grass watered (subject to any hosepipe bans) or left open to the rain to recover and regrow.

Dust pollution

Dust pollution is a concern when working with dry materials on dry ground, as it’s easy for powders and granular substances to escape onto the surrounding area.

Ground protection mats provide a barrier against this, which you can easily sweep later, or wet down to prevent dust from flying around into the wider environment.

Summer storms

Finally, remember the dry weather won’t last forever. Timber walkway mats can keep projects on schedule when the dry weather finally turns.

All that loose dry dust and crumbling parched earth can quickly churn into mud if left exposed to the rain – so keep timber walkway mats in place or on standby and you’ll be ready whatever the weather brings.

Five locations for ground protection mats

Ground protection mats can be used for different reasons in very different locations. Here are five places where you might find a need for ground protection mats, which together help to highlight how versatile and important these timber mats really are.

Roads

Roads benefit twice from ground protection mats – once from above and once from below. While the mats protect the road surface against any falling debris, they also help to spread the weight of vehicles and reduce the risk of breaking through the road into hidden cavities below, from buried utilities, to basements and buried fuel tanks.

Grass

Ground protection mats can protect grass, often leaving it in completely fine condition when the timber mats are lifted up again.

This makes them versatile to create temporary roadways, parking and staging areas, or to demarcate routes for pedestrians or vehicles for the duration of an event.

Mud

Muddy ground is one of the most common places to use ground protection mats, as they can hide a multitude of sins underneath to reinstate a dry and solid surface for feet and vehicles alike.

Used early in a project, they can even provide a physical barrier to prevent exposed earth from being churned into mud by heavy tyres, leaving less landscaping work to do in order to put things right later.

Canals

Ground protection mats are often placed in the bottom of drained canals to create a stable and dry surface to work on during maintenance and restoration.

This is especially useful when the bottom of the canal itself has become damaged, as the ground protection mats can create a reliable surface right up to the damaged area, allowing repair work to be carried out safely.

Sand

Yes, ground protection mats can even stabilise sand and other loose surfaces, allowing you to build a temporary roadway across a beach to bring ashore items shipped by coastal barge, for example.

This ability to be used in tidal locations can come as a surprise, but as individual mats can be moved quickly and easily into place, it’s a great way to produce a solid surface on any loose substance like sand.

Emtek heavy equipment mats offer environmental responsibility

Emtek heavy equipment mats are an excellent choice for heavy engineering works where environmental responsibility is a concern – an issue with growing relevance in an era of climate change and heightened social awareness.

While Emtek heavy equipment mats may look like other timber mats, there are several subtle design features that help them to deliver even better environmental benefits, over and above the natural advantage of being produced from sustainable, responsibly sourced timber.

For example, every Emtek heavy equipment mat is treated with LifePro micronized copper technology, which helps to prevent biological decay of the timber; they also feature steel edge protection, which further helps to protect the mat against damage at the edges, a place where mat degradation often begins.

Their laminated billet structure means that they can offer greater strength than other timber mats, yet with significantly less thickness per mat – which means more of them can be transported in a single truckload.

As a result, the fuel consumption of transporting Emtek heavy equipment mats is around half as much as would be required to move conventional hardwood timber mats of equivalent strength, and this means direct cost savings and a reduced carbon footprint.

Environmental responsibility is not just about emissions though, and on some sites you need to ensure the ground beneath the mats is not unduly disturbed – especially on land that forms part of a natural habitat, such as wetlands and swamps.

With Emtek’s interlocking clip system, you can easily create a consistent timber surface with no gaps or separation between individual mats, so there is no risk of isolated areas being left exposed.

On firm ground, Emtek heavy equipment mats have a loading capacity of 4,123 psi and are fully tested to meet the guidelines of ASTM 5456 so that you can calculate the ground pressure and deflection expected from a particular load.

By working out how much the ground beneath will be depressed, personnel can therefore be confident that no significant damage will be caused to soil, plantlife and any root systems at shallow depth below the surface – not to mention buried structures like pipelines that could also be affected.

Demolition protection mats help you stay fallout free

Demolition protection mats are the essential ground protection mats you need when bringing down any kind of structure, from tall towers and multi-storey blocks, to relatively contained and careful dismantling of single storeys.

They serve as all-purpose ground protection mats, providing a stable surface for workers to walk on, helping to spread the load of heavy machinery and rugged wheels on soft ground, and absorbing the impact and general debris of the demolition work itself.

Our demolition protection mats are heavy-duty, available in 150 mm and 200 mm thicknesses, and this helps to give you the maximum levels of safety on-site, including any sensitive areas where underground utilities and service lines might be buried.

With delicate pipework and cables often buried only a short distance below the surface, and prone to cracking if the ground shifts, demolition protection mats help to reduce this risk by spreading the pressure of vehicles and plant equipment, as well as any falling rubble.

You may have seen our road protection mats during demolition works at the University of Manchester on Oxford Road, where the pedestrian bridge access into the Precinct Centre was pulled down as part of campus regeneration works.

The bridge – which would have been 50 years old in 2019 – was demolished in mid-August 2015, with Oxford Road partially closed for only a few weeks afterwards, and fully open again as the new academic year got underway.

Our demolition protection mats helped to make sure the road surface on this important transport route through the University of Manchester campus was not significantly damaged by the works, which would otherwise have seen large high-reach trucks forced to drive on the exposed road surface.

With the help of our heavy-duty road protection mats the demolition works remained focused on bringing down the bridge structure with close attention to avoiding collateral damage in the surrounding built environment – with the buildings at both ends of the bridge retained for refurbishment works.

Ultimately this allowed a valuable transport route to reopen within weeks, and campus redevelopment continues as part of an ambitious multi-year investment – highlighting the importance of demolition protection for surrounding areas to keep large and long-term projects on schedule.

Long-lasting piling rig mats for the UK and Ireland

Durable piling rig mats from Timbermat create a solid and stable platform for piling rigs on ground that would ordinarily not provide enough support for the heavy machinery used in the process.

Like other timber mats, these serve as ground protection mats – preventing substantial damage to the surface beneath – but crucially also help to ensure machinery placed on top can be used safely, with less risk of toppling over during drilling operations.

Available in two different sizes, these are some of the most hard-wearing and long-lasting timber mats available, in recognition of the intensive loads placed upon them.

For smaller projects, there are also medium-duty piling rig mats, which still offer great performance under high-pressure loads, but use slightly less timber and may be easier to move into place with the lifting equipment typically available on smaller sites.

In either case, the strong and sturdy timber mats allow you to construct drilling rig platforms for piling projects, and are also up to the task of taking the weight of heavy plant and vehicles so that you can create a platform for all of your mobile equipment that can remain in place throughout drilling and construction.

We have drilling rig mats for hire immediately throughout the UK and Ireland, and we can also supply piling rig mats for sale, if you need a permanent stock of your own or prefer to make a long-term investment rather than rent piling rig mats on an ad hoc basis.

Larger numbers of mats can be combined to create platforms over large areas of unstable ground, or flat and level temporary roadways across the site – and you can combine this with our other timber mats, outrigger pads and so on to make sure you have covered all of the bases on your project.

Piling rig mats come in 150 mm and 200 mm thickness, and can be delivered to your location anywhere in the UK and Ireland. To find out more or to make an enquiry about piling rig mats for hire or for sale, fill in our online contact form, email info@timbermat.co.uk or call us on 08000 12 1231.

Five steps to a firmer foundation with crane mats

Crane mats are an essential step in laying a firm foundation when using heavy lifting equipment including vehicle-mounted cranes, and if you are not 100% certain of what lies beneath ground level, laying crane mats is an absolute must to help minimise the risk of subsidence during lifting.

Here are five steps towards safer lifting operations, thanks to the firm foundation laid using crane mats and outrigger pads, and a few simple precautions before and during the lifting operation itself.

1. Check the ground conditions

There are a few things to consider here – the type of ground surface, loose soil, wet sand etc, as well as any hidden risks below the surface, for example cavities left behind by underground storage tanks and utility ducts.

2. Choose your crane pads

Consider all of the characteristics of the crane pads you choose – their size, thickness, flexibility and load-bearing strength – and how these correspond to your lifting equipment and the ground conditions on which they will be used.

3. Add outrigger pads

Lifting equipment is more stable with outrigger pads – it’s as simple as that. They significantly broaden your contact base with the ground for a much more stable effective centre of gravity, and provide an extra layer of defence against the crane vehicle or other lifting equipment toppling over under an uneven load.

4. Lift evenly and within range

Don’t over-extend the lifting arm or try to hoist too much weight at once. If necessary (and possible) split the lifting operation into several parts so you can carry less weight or cover less distance, to keep all the variables within range – and look for signs of the outriggers starting to lift off of their outrigger mats, which could be a precursor to toppling over.

5. Watch for deformation

Crane mats and outrigger pads are designed to flex and absorb some of the pressure exerted on them, but look out for the entire mat sinking into the ground, as the soil itself might not be able to take the pressure, and this can quickly destabilise your vehicle or equipment.

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