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 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.

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.

How to safely set up your crane

The tower and mobile cranes setup procedure requires meticulous setup to avoid any catastrophic accidents during lifting operations.

This includes instability and damage caused by:

· Soft and undermined ground conditions

· Hidden utilities and conduits

· Overbalanced cranes

Ground protection mats help you to control for these common crane hazards by spreading the pressure of the crane over a larger area, as well as expanding the base area over which the centre of gravity can be safely located.

Using crane mats to build a lifting platform

First of all, crane safety requires to have a competent person with the relevant safety training to survey the ground in order to identify any hidden hollows and other potential hazards below the surface.

These can create pockets that the crane can fall into – and even a small cavity can leave the crane leaning in a dangerous position.

Crane mats can be used to span smaller spaces below the surface, by ensuring that the pressure is applied over a level lifting platform instead of on a single point of contact.

Widening the base area

Outrigger pads are a way to increase the effective base area of the crane so that the centre of gravity cannot move to an unstable position.

Again, using outrigger mats spreads the pressure of the crane’s outriggers over an area, reducing the risk of crane accidents due to an outrigger sinking into soft ground or breaking through into an undetected cavity.

They also help to create a flat and level surface for the outrigger to make contact with, which can be helpful if the ground itself is not completely level or even.

Things to consider

It’s important to assess the type of outrigger pads and crane mats you need, according to the soil type, the size of your crane or other lifting equipment and the total load you need to lift, among other things.

You might want to consider:

· The size of outrigger mats you need.

· The type and maximum load of crane mats.

At all times, make sure you observe your lifting platform, crane mats and outrigger pads carefully, and halt your lifting operations if you notice any significant deformation.

For more information about crane mats, lifting platforms and outrigger mats, contact Timbermat today and we will be happy to help.

How to free heavy machinery stuck in mud

If you need to free heavy machinery stuck in mud, you’re likely to need two things: more heavy machinery and a way to reach your bogged-down equipment.

Where to start with mud-trapped machinery

Assuming the machinery already stuck is not able to escape the mud even with a dry clean roadway, then it’s important to consider not only the weight of the equipment used to pull it out, but also the additional forces that will be exerted during the pulling or lifting process.

Because of this, it’s crucial to spread the load of the lifting vehicle so as to minimise the downward pressure on the mud and prevent another vehicle from getting stuck.

How can Timbermat help?

We supply heavy equipment mats for some of the most challenging working environments, as they can be used in different configurations to overcome obstacles like waterlogged land and even bridging across gaps. These uniquely engineered timber mats are substantially stronger than standard bog mats and are fully tested, making it possible to calculate specific deflection and ground pressure conditions under certain loads.

On extremely boggy land, heavy equipment bog mats can be laid in an H-configuration with mats laid across beneath the main temporary roadway, effectively acting as outriggers to spread the pressure over a larger area.

This can create an access roadway even on extremely challenging sites, providing a means for the rescue vehicle to reach the swamped equipment and haul it out on to the roadway.

Can you build a road to freedom?

In some cases where equipment is only partially bogged down but unable to move, it may be possible to free it by laying a clean, dry and solid temporary roadway right up to the tyres to provide some purchase.

Again, heavy equipment mats are a good choice for this on very wet ground, and we have an extensive range of alternative options that could also be suitable in less challenging conditions.

For this purpose, the idea is to lay a dry roadway in front of the vehicle (or behind it, if attempting to reverse out of a mud slick) and use its own engine and tyre tread to establish enough grip with the textured surface of the timber mats and transfer enough power to drive out on to dry and solid ground.

Timbermat can help free your trapped equipment. Just get in contact with us today to discuss options. It might also be a good idea to be prepared for next time!

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. If you have specific requirements, get in touch today and a member of our team will discuss options with you.

Copyright Timbermat © 2021