Crane mats do more than just protect the ground – they also protect you against some of the biggest risks you face on an active job site, where instability of heavy lifting gear or crane vehicles can lead to a costly catastrophe.
HSE statistics show that since 2001, there have been more than 60 reported safety incidents involving tower cranes in the construction industry, with 25 people seriously injured and nine people killed.
Along with this completely avoidable human cost, there is the financial cost – the destruction of cranes that topple on unstable ground, the value of anything destroyed where they land, the potential health and safety fines, and the lengthy interruption to construction work.
The sheer size of cranes and the quantity of goods that they can lift means the destructive forces involved in a collapse can be huge – but crane mats can help to make sure that the ground surface is properly prepared, to improve the stability of all lifting equipment, from the very largest to a relatively small vehicle-mounted crane.
When you lay crane mats, you can create temporary roadways for crane vehicles, or stationary platforms for static lifting equipment, so that you know what surface you are working on.
The mats help to spread the pressure and the downward forces from the crane’s legs, wheels or outriggers, and this in itself means you are less likely to sink into soft ground or break through into a hidden cavity below.
You can combine this with outrigger pads where appropriate, to achieve the same added stability for individual outriggers, rather than putting in place a completely solid platform or temporary roadway.
You reduce the risk of the ground giving way beneath the crane by distributing the weight more evenly; you lower the risk of the crane toppling if the ground on one side is softer than on the other; and where necessary you construct a temporary roadway that doubles as a demarcation system to highlight the safe route.
On top of all of this, crane mats deliver the general benefits of ground protection mats, protecting exposed earth, soil and lawns against being churned up by bulky crane vehicle tyres, and reducing landscaping costs to put it right again when construction is completed.