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 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.

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.

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.

How to keep staff as safe as possible on construction sites during COVID-19

The closure of pubs and restaurants has left many people with the belief that only key workers are still travelling to and from their jobs.

But while some office jobs can be done from home, the government guidance has not banned most workplaces from continuing to operate if staff must be there in person.

One sector where this is the case for the vast majority of employees is construction, but with large numbers of builders and tradespeople on some sites, many working in the industry have raised concerns about safety.

Site operators now face the challenge of continuing large construction projects at pace and on schedule, while keeping staff as safe as possible in all areas of the site.

Here are some measures you can take to adhere to the government’s guidance on social distancing, which should be applied in workplaces as far as possible.

Cleanliness and hygiene

Hygiene is the first step towards protecting against COVID-19 in all settings. Encourage staff to wash their hands frequently, lathering well with soap for over 20 seconds each time.

Coughing and sneezing should be kept to a minimum, but when it is unavoidable, it is important to cover the nose and mouth – face masks may be appropriate on some sites if they are available.

Surfaces should also be kept clean if possible, and you should try to avoid having all employees touch the same surface, for example on keypad entry systems.

Social distancing

In addition to destroying the virus using soap and sanitisers, distance provides an invisible barrier to prevent the spread of infection.

A minimum spacing of two metres should be maintained between workers wherever possible, not only to protect health, but also to prevent sickness absences and lost productivity.

Most of our bog mats come in a standard width of one metre and a length of 3-5 metres, so can provide a useful visual reference for maintaining distance around your construction site.

Finally, sector-specific guidance on social distancing for construction sites can be accessed via the UK government’s GOV.UK website, with advice such as limiting the number of employees who can share a lift or, ideally, using stairs instead.

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.

What to do if your construction site is flooded

Tis the season for severe weather warnings and if you’re facing the threat of heavy rain or you’ve been issued with an Environment Agency flood alert, be ready with bog mats.

Bog mats offer you several ways to contend with flooding, depending on how deep the water is expected to get.

Even shallow floods can contain health risks and when water drains away, that can leave your ground surface unsafe for direct contact.

 

Laying timber mats over it can allow access for remedial work to begin and so that you can clean up any surface residues so full access can be regained.

Ground protection mats also prevent waterlogged earth from being deeply rutted or churned up by chunky vehicle tyres or plant equipment caterpillar tracks.

If you are able to take action ahead of any flooding, you could construct an elevated platform using bog mats to lift materials well clear of the expected height of the flood water.

This is a technique that is commonly used when working on wetlands and marshes, and involves laying timber mats in a criss-cross formation, with the lower timbers acting as a scaffold on which the top layer of bog mats can be laid.

 

By remaining relatively open between those criss-cross supports, using bog mats to build a flood platform in this way does not prevent the water from draining from the site.

And because timber mats are made of natural materials and have low intrinsic value, they can be disposed of easily and in an environmentally friendly way after use if they become contaminated from the flood water.

In every respect, using ground protection mats to prevent unnecessary damage to the earth, provide a barrier between your feet, tyres and the floodwater residue, and elevate materials to avoid them getting wet where possible, all adds up to a better construction site flood plan.

 

As we move into the new year and the wet winter and early spring months, it’s well worth considering investing in a stock of bog mats for sale so that you have them close at hand if heavy weather hits.

Dangers of uneven ground: risk assessment & solutions

Each year, health and safety statistics continue to rank slips, trips and falls as being among the main causes of injury in workplaces throughout the UK.

It’s a broad category but in any case, one way to reduce the risk of trip hazards and falling on the flat is to make sure the ground underfoot is flat and level.

Uneven ground can introduce several avoidable hazards, such as sloping slippery surfaces, ruts and furrows, and the risk of penetrating into voids hidden below the ground.

Temporary ground protection mats are a quick, easy and economical way to provide a physical barrier between feet, wheels and the ground surface below.

 

What can temporary ground protection mats cover?

You can hide a multitude of less-than-perfect working surfaces beneath temporary ground protection mats:

  • Slippery surfaces such as mud that can be churned up by heavy-duty tyres.
  • Grass you want to remain in place after work is completed.
  • Weak substances e.g. expansive soil that may be prone to subsidence.

Temporary roadways can provide safe and demarcated access for plant vehicles and machinery on to the site, while reducing the need for them to negotiate lumps and bumps in the ground surface.

And temporary pedestrian walkways can be laid down to provide essential grip underfoot and ensure workers’ boots are not clogged with mud when stepping on to clean surfaces around the site.

 

Why are timber mats a good option?

Safety is important but it should not come at an excessive financial cost for your business – and timber mats offer the best of both worlds.

The timber itself has little intrinsic value, so they’re not a theft risk and they should have little to no impact on your site insurance.

We have timber mats for sale and for hire, so if you only need them as a one-off, you don’t face the need to store or sell on your ground protection mats once the work is completed.

Equally, if you need a stock of your own timber mats for subsequent projects, you can buy them from us and get many years of service life out of them for even greater economy.

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