Safety and A Better Timber Mat
Updated: Jan 11
Summary: Can our mats and the Golden Rule contribute to a safer working environment on your job?
How might our mats contribute to a safer work environment on your job? How can using the Golden Rule – treating our customers, employees, and vendors exactly how we would want to be treated – apply to safety?
There’s a corollary to the Golden Rule: Safety is job number one. We all have experience with safety programs, have all seen unsafe work practices, and we are all dedicated to zero lost time incidents.
In this piece we primarily examine safety from a user point of view – how safe is our timber mat in use compared with other timber mats? Later in this blog we look at an expanded definition of safety throughout the entire supply chain.
From the timber mat user point of view, it’s reasonable to assume that a stronger mat is a safer mat. (See Blog Taking the Measure of Wood: How to determine who's the strongest?)
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.”*
As important as strength is reliability – how reliable (or how variable) are the stronger materials?
In respect to timber mats, combining these two ideas we come up with, “Safety is the result of applying strong raw materials in a standardized manner to produce a superior product.”
Mat users are primarily concerned with product safety. Our timber mats are:
Stronger: Eucalyptus is stronger than southern red oak; we use ASTM F1554 Grade 36 or better bolts.
Standardized: We use a uniform raw material with minimal variability within each mat and between mats and allow no wane, and no rot. We have a single facility with a uniform, standardized production process so each mat is produced the same way. (see Blog: Do Standards and Standardization Matter in a Hardwood Timber Mat?)
Safer – the result of stronger and standardized is a superior product that is safer for our customers’ use.
We can also expand the definition of safety to include the entire supply chain from trees to delivery of mats to the job site. This is the Golden Rule in application: Trying hard to make sure that the whole supply chain is safe for everyone involved.
That’s a very interesting exercise. As manufacturers of crane mats, we are highly attuned to safety issues.
It’s interesting to see how safe mat users are compared to mat producers!
The pipeline construction industry is a lot safer than the wood manufacturing industry…and is safer than other mat industry users as well as every other component of our mat supply chain. Wood product manufacturing has approximately ten times the total recordable cases as the pipeline construction industry, and roughly two and one-half as many cases as power and communication construction.
Source: 2017 US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Download from Summary Tables from BLS here.
Total Recordable Cases defined as: “The incidence rates represent the number of injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers.”
In short, it’s natural that mat users should be concerned about product strength, standardization, and safety – it runs deep through their corporate and industry culture.
The higher safety risk in the wood product manufacturing industry has highly attuned us to safety concerns and cultures in both our vendors and own production.
In respect to vendor safety we work:
Only with the highest qualified vendors and we work with them to improve their operations.
With a large number of vendors so we don’t over-stress any single provider.
With large logistics providers with extensive experience.
In respect to our production safety we:
Use a system of continuous improvement in production
Maintain high safety standards, implementation and monitoring of our processes.
We believe the result of a strong, well-known, standardized product improves the engineering of each customer’s project ensuring that our product meets customer needs on a consistent basis.
Furthermore, by paying attention to safety concerns throughout the entire supply chain we can assure ourselves we are doing the very best job for our customers, suppliers, and employees.
* DISCLAIMER: Conditions vary significantly across terrain and machinery, which may affect the performance of any mat. World Forest Group LLC makes no claims for specific performance and will supply engineering letter for users to do their own calculations.
As mat suppliers, we have no knowledge of the soil conditions or loading to which mats will be subjected. These are calculated and designed by the mat users.