Dangers of timber ribbing blocks for mining operations

The hidden risks of timber support blocks: make the switch to Stacko™ today

June 29, 2023

Explore the dangers of using timber and wood onsite to support heavy equipment and machines. Not only are you creating unnecessary safety risks – but it isn’t very environmentally friendly either!

Across the industry, where heavy equipment and machinery are commonplace, the safety of operations and personnel is of upmost importance. Creating a safe work environment leads to operational efficiencies, increased machine availability, and reduced downtime.

Cribbing or machinery support blocks serve several key purposes in the heavy industry and are employed in various applications – for example, equipment stabilisation and assembly, as well as temporary support structures. To ensure safe and efficient operations, choosing the right block is crucial. While timber cribbing blocks have traditionally been used, OEMs, mining companies, and contractors are increasingly making the switch to our load-rated polyurethane Stacko™ Blocks. Developed from the ground up, Stacko™ offers significant safety, performance, and reliability advantages.

Timber blocks pose a number of dangers to a worksite:

1. Limited Load-Bearing Capacity: Timber cribbing blocks have inherent limitations in their load-bearing capacity. The unknown shape, make up, and structure of each timber block makes it impossible to guarantee the load rating, and ability of a block to support the required tonnage. Over time, timber can deteriorate, leading to reduced structural integrity. This poses a significant risk when supporting heavy machinery, as sudden collapses or shifts can occur, endangering nearby personnel and equipment.

2. Moisture Absorption and Decay: Wood is prone to moisture absorption, which can cause the blocks to swell, warp, or decay. In mining operations, where conditions are often harsh and damp, the lifespan of timber cribbing blocks can be significantly reduced. This deterioration compromises their ability to provide stable, reliable, and durable support – increasing the likelihood of WHS hazards, risks, and potentially catastrophic incidents.

3. Uneven Weight Distribution: Timber cribbing blocks are susceptible to variations in shape and size, resulting in uneven weight distribution. This imbalance can lead to instability and potential structural failures, posing dangers to both workers and equipment.

Safety dangers of timber cribbing blocks

4. Not backed by testing: Due to the unknown makeup of timber, and the differing structural integrity from block to block, timber cannot be independently tested or certified for its intended use. Timber blocks are not assessed against any safety standards, within an operating temperature range, or have any safety factor.

5. Manual handling risks: The handling of timber blocks around site poses many safety risks to workers. Timber is heavy to handle, with the potential for splintering – leading to back strain, hand injuries, and other incidents.

6. Environment concerns: No doubt you aware that timber or wood cribbing blocks are derived from the cutting down of trees – not the most environmentally friendly option! If you are looking to reduce your environmental footprint, then timber is not the ideal choice. Switch to a longer lasting block that can be reused with no compromise on load bearing capacity or stability.

Wood cribbing blocks for mining industry - unsafe

Replace timber with the superior alternative – Stacko™ Blocks:

1. Reliable load rating: Stacko™ Blocks are designed and engineered to handle heavy loads safely. Load rated to 30kg/cm2, with a 3:1 safety factor, Stacko™ offer a higher level of stability, reliability, and minimises the risk of accidents caused by structural failure. Complete trust can be placed in Stacko™’s lead rating to support, stabilise, and elevate your heavy equipment and machinery.

2. Lightweight and Easy to Handle: Stacko™ blocks are up to 30% lighter than timber and other cribbing products – making them easy to transport, handle, and position. Stacko™ Blocks also feature a handle for ease of use, and a safe-build trolley is available as an additional purchase. This not only improves operational efficiency and ergonomics but also reduces the risk of worker injuries associated with lifting and manoeuvring heavy blocks.

Superior heavy machinery support blocks

3. Rigorously tested: Stacko™ Blocks have been independently tested to AS1170. This is the standard in Australia required for jacks and standards. Conforming to this standard, Stacko™ possesses a 3:1 safety factor, and experienced less than 2% deflection at maximum load. The testing was conducted as a single Stacko™ block and as a 150cm high crib, within a temperature range of -50oC to +40oC – note this range refers to the temperature throughout the complete block, not the ambient temperature. This stringent testing regime guarantees Stacko™s suitability for use in a range of harsh conditions on site.

4. Interlocking design: Stacko™ are the only heavy equipment support blocks to feature an interlocking system. This patent protected design was developed for added safety, stability and reliability. Blocks are unlikely to topple when configured.

Load-bearing polyurethane blocks

5. Moisture and Chemical Resistance: Unlike timber, Stacko™ Blocks (manufactured from polyurethane) are resistant to moisture, oil, salt water, rodent and insects, as well as, most workshop chemicals. Polyurethane blocks are not affected by environmental conditions, ensuring consistent performance and structural integrity even in the harshest mining environments.

6. Consistent Size and Shape: Stacko™ blocks are manufactured from virgin materials to precise specifications, ensuring uniform size, shape, and weight distribution. This consistency provides stability and eliminates the risk of uneven weight distribution, reducing the likelihood of accidents caused by block instability – a high risk when using timber. Our on-site manufacturing capabilities allow for continually monitored quality control, testing, and quarantining if required.

Other benefits of Stacko™ include: UV stabilised, blocks are manufactured in Hi-Vis yellow, and the ability to assemble many configurations to suit various applications.

Load-rated polyurethane cribbing blocks

When it comes to temporary equipment stabilisation, assembly, and support, the choice of block plays a critical role in ensuring worker safety. It is clear that timber no longer has a place in a safety-oriented and environmentally conscious industry. By transitioning from timber to Stacko™, you can enhance safety standards, mitigate the risks associated with unstable support structures, and provide a secure environment for both workers and equipment. Make the smart choice for your heavy industry operations by embracing the advanced safety features and superior performance of polyurethane Stacko™ Blocks.

To speak to a Stacko™ Product Specialist today give us a call on 07 3279 3066 or email sales@nationalplastics.net.au

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