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    The many hazards of using timber blocks to support heavy loads

    Infolink

    Timber blocks have long been used to support or stabilise a large piece of equipment or a heavy load. An accepted practice for many years, it is considered unsafe as well as inefficient today. OH&S professionals know that timber is a serious safety risk for workers when used as a support as it is unpredictable. However, timber blocks continue to be used as a propping and/or support tool across a wide range of industries, including mining, manufacturing, agriculture,construction and engineering sectors.

    The fact is timber is not a tool, and should never be used as one.

    While dunnage and blocks made of timber have traditionally been used for blocking and cribbing in industrial applications, they are not engineered as fit-for-purpose tools for applications such as supporting machinery and equipment when carrying out assembly, repairs and maintenance tasks.

    Tony Brooks, Managing Director of the Cribbing & Matting Co says it’s a problem when people take random pieces of timber to use as support devices, knowing nothing about the species or the state of the timber.

    He explains that timber is not a tool and only quality manufactured cribbing blocks and specially designed metal stands can be recognised as purpose-built tools for stabilising heavy equipment. Though the industry is slowly recognising the benefits of plastic engineered cribbing blocks, the process is not fast enough; workers continue to be killed or injured at work needlessly.

    The structural integrity of timber, or lack of it, cannot often be identified until it's too late. For instance, a timber block may be perfect when bought but can age quickly when it gets exposed to certain elements. Timber in moist conditions will absorb water and become structurally unsound, while timber exposed to excessive heat becomes brittle. The creaking sound is indication that damage has already occurred. When timber’s load-bearing effectiveness is compromised, it can fail completely and often catastrophically.

    Timber blocks are frequently exposed to chemicals, solvents, fuels and other contaminants at industrial worksites, presenting further risks to workers’ health.

    The Cribbing & Matting Co offers plastic engineered cribbing blocks, which are far superior to timber with regard to safety, efficiency and the environment. The Dura Crib plastic engineered jacking and cribbing blocks have an authenticated Working Load Limit (WLL), which timber blocks can never achieve. Each Dura Crib plastic engineered jacking and cribbing block possesses a uniform load-bearing capacity across the entire block.

    Mr Brooks explains that the high performance Dura Crib range was specifically developed to replace older, weaker timber cribbing systems with varying and unpredictable load-bearing capabilities. Not only is timber impossible to authenticate for Working Load Limit, timber blocks require ongoing replacement. Additionally, there is wastage of scarce hardwoods as well as growing disposal problems with old timber cribbing, which is often soaked with oil, chemicals and hazardous waste products.

    The lightweight Dura Crib range of jacking and cribbing is resistant to fuels, oils and most common industrial solvents and chemicals, and is backed by a 50-year warranty against splitting, rot, fluid absorption, termites and mould.

    Available in hi-visibility yellow or standard black, the cribbing is manufactured from 100% recycled high density polyethylene (HDPE) for durability and tested under the guidance of AS1170.0.2002 and AS2498.3.1998.

    A major advantage of Dura Crib is that it is a complete system of integrated products that can be combined to provide comprehensive solutions across a wide range of industries including mining, materials handling, building, construction and manufacturing.

    Offering outstanding strength and stability, Dura Crib is suitable for both active cribbing, where a person is working on, underneath or near the supported load, as well as for passive cribbing, where cribbing is used to keep the load off the ground, allowing forklift access.

    Mr Brooks explains that Dura Crib provides an engineered and easily handled system and is the safest and fastest way to stabilise loads, including machinery and vehicles ranging from cars to heavy trucks. By ensuring stability quickly and easily in all industrial situations, it saves time and money and protects workers.

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