What is a plate bearing test?

A plate bearing test is a way to check how much load an area of soil can support, before constructing a working platform, access road or other above-ground structure as part of construction work.

Sometimes known as a plate loading test, it is a way to ensure safety before bringing mobile lifting equipment, cranes and outrigger pads on to the site, and tests well beyond the expected working pressure of the temporary structure.

What does a plate load test involve?

A plate bearing test typically involves a steel plate of 300mm or 600mm in diameter, which is put under increasing pressure using a hydraulic jack.

Any settlement of the soil is recorded, which can then be used to determine the safe load that the ground can bear, and so make important decisions about the location and nature of any temporary access roads, working platforms, lifting platforms and crane outrigger pads.

British Standard BS 1377-9:1990 Methods of Test for Soils for Civil Engineering Purposes (In-Situ Tests) sets out the specifications that must be adhered to when carrying out plate bearing tests, for a reliable result that assures site safety.

Why is it important?

Once the test is completed and the results known, you can plan your use of the site from a fully informed position, allowing you to position any lifting platforms and access roads where the ground can best support them.

Timber mats are a versatile option for this, helping to spread pressure so that it is not exerted on a small, specific area of soil, as well as compensating for minor bumps and unevenness in the site surface.

Because timber mats are both strong and flexible, they can dissipate pressure forces well across their full area, without permanent deformation – making them ideal to move into a new position as work progresses across the site.

Timbermat have an extensive stock of timber mats for hire and for sale, so whether you need a short-term solution for an upcoming project, or you want a stash of your own ground protection mats to use over the long term, we can help.

For more information or to discuss the best timber mats for your upcoming work, please contact the Timbermat team and we will be happy to advise.

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