Why did we make “Safety” the fourth course when Safety is Job Number One?
Because, in respect to timber matting, safety is a function of Strength and Standardization.
As one engineer put it, “Assuming equal applications of a material, stronger materials tend to produce stronger results. In general, greater strength is safer than lesser strength.”
In the previous course on Standardization we wrote, “Standardization allows us to forget about the details every time we use a good or service and get on with our lives.”
Accident risk increases when we use products that are not as strong or not as standardized.
As industry veteran Joe Penland notes, “So, we’ve got mats that are inferior when they’re brand new, going under cranes that are ten times bigger, making lifts that are thirty times larger…it’s not always operator error…a lot of mats I see have been crushed under the weight.” No one wants to see a machine break a mat. It happens; the consequences are significant. Why would anyone want a weaker mat when one could have a stronger mat at about the same price?
Weakness or strength is function of material properties and wood quality. For example, Eucalyptus timber mats are ~40% stronger than Southern Red Oak mats, which themselves are 20% stronger than Poplar mats.
Wood quality makes a difference. Defects like wane, rot, and bark commonly occur in mixed hardwood timber mats. In the best case, the user is buying more defects and less wood; in the worst case, the lack of uniformity makes safety hazards like tripping more likely. That’s because….
…Attention is half the safety battle. When we attend to our environment carefully, we work more safely. Much of our attention dissipates when faced with an apparently uniform environment. However, most mats simply aren’t uniform. So, there’s a greater risk, for example, with tripping.
When mats are uniformly manufactured with standardized timbers then mats are also uniformly shaped, and we can forget about the mat details. For example, less tripping hazard.
Backup information: https://eucmat.is/Safer
Field applications. With safety in mind, consider opting for a stronger mat:
- For heavy machinery or heavy pipeline work use our 8” Eucalyptus timber mat, which has ~40% stronger bending strength and ~30% stronger shear than 8” mixed hardwoods.
- For wind and heavy lifts: Some heavy cranes require two layers of 12” mixed hardwood mats. Some operators worry about safety and double mat layers. If your cranes are light enough – check with your engineer – you may be able to substitute one layer of 12” Eucalyptus crane mats for two layers of 12” mixed hardwoods.
- In some sectors users will fill the notch with gravel or cover in plywood to prevent tripping. Try our no-notch Eucalyptus timber mats which are also compliant with national transmission mat standards.