The What’s and Why’s of Personal Protection Equipment – FAQs On Electrical Insulation Mats

The US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that the 3rd leading cause of private sector worker deaths in the US was “Electrocution”, responsible for 8.6% of all deaths.

Each year, the number of accidents that happen on the job seems to be rising. It is sad, but true, that many of these accidents lead to severe injuries and casualties mainly because of the absence of Personal protection equipment.

Personal Protection Equipment refers to a broad range of equipment that is used as protection from health and safety hazards at the place of work. Their purpose is to reduce exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not comprehensive enough to eliminate all the risks. PPE includes items such as gloves, helmet, footwear, harness, and glasses, to name a few. Essentially this means all equipment that is required to protect the body from head to toe.

Let us deep dive into one of the critical equipment i.e. Electrical Insulation Mat as follows.

What are Electrical Insulation Mats?

Specially designed for use in front of live electrical equipment such as switchboards, the electrical safety mat is made of a special grade of rubber that has excellent insulating properties. Electrical insulation mats are laid out near various electrical equipment to protect personnel against electrical shocks due to earth faults. As compared to most personal protection equipment that is worn by the personnel, electrical insulation mats are used in outdoor and indoor applications and are generally placed in front of electrical panels, switchgears & high voltage equipment in order to create a safe working environment for the operators. We have written more about the essential nature of this equipment in a previous blog.

How do these electrical insulation mats work?

Rubber is electrically resistant and a natural dielectric material. Thus, it prevents the free flow of electrons and inhibits the flow of electric current, making it an ideal insulator while someone has to work on a live electrical site. In addition, rubber’s cushioning and flexibility make it a perfect choice for electrical safety matting.

Are they known by any other name?

Electrical Insulation Mats are also famously known as switchboard matting, non-conductive matting, Dielectric carpet, Switchboard runner and safety mat.

How are these mats produced?

The following steps are performed to manufacture high quality matting:

  1. Mixing: The ingredients are accurately weighted according to the formula, pre-heated to between 95°C and 104°C and thoroughly mixed. This compound is then put through a roller to remove air and produce an unvulcanised sheet 2mm-3mm thicker than the finished requirement. It is then left to cure for 3-4 days.
  2. Calendaring: Calendaring is the process where the compound is passed between more rollers to form rolls with correct thickness. This flattens and mixes the compound. The pre-heating treatment ensures steady operation of the calendar and minimizes shrinkage. The roller surface temperature is controlled to +/- 1°C. Sheeting is usually produced using a vertical calendar with thickness control.
  3. Rotocuring: The second part of the calendaring process is performed on rotocures, where a ribbed pattern or Fabric finish achieved. Also the marking of mat is carried out in this process.
  4. Drying & Testing: The rolls are then air-dried before passing through a 2-electrode testing station to ensure every running meter complies to the correct electrical specification according to the thickness
  5. Finishing: Following these processes, the finished material is wound into rolls

Exactly what protection does an electrical mat offer?

Electrical safety floor mats can only protect against earth contact through the floor. This is essential as the operator may be standing or kneeling on the ground and may complete a dangerous circuit.

The mat will not provide any protection against electric shock if the operator or user simultaneously touches a large area of metal likely to have an earth and an exposed live conductor. Unless the personnel are protected by personal protective equipment such as electrical safety gloves, they could receive a lethal shock.

Where should I use the mat?

A safety mat should be deployed in locations where there is a risk of an electrical shock. Examples of such locations would be in front of switchboards, in front of machine control gear, in plant rooms, in lift control gear rooms, as portable protection for site engineers working on live equipment.

How do I use an electrical insulation mat?

Electrical safety mats should be used in tandem with electrical insulation gloves and boots as required so that the concerned personnel are well protected from the risks of an electrical shock.

Which product should I choose?

One should choose the product according to electrical safety matting standards in the concerned country. There are a variety of standards – the US standards apply in the US and in some other locations like Saudi Arabia and the Philippines whereas much of the rest of the world follows standards that are equally comprehensive. Other factors to consider are the location of usage, the type and voltage of machinery in question, the conditions that prevail on site and so on. We (obviously) recommend checking out our own KAMFET Electrical Insulation Mats – more at http://raychemrpg.com/ebu/electrical-insulation-mats/.

What is BS EN 61111:2009?

The CENELEC (European Committee for Electro technical Standardization) and the IEC (International Electro technical Commission) drew up electrical safety matting standard in 1992. This is the recognized standard that all companies need to follow, today. The IEC61111 standard categorizes product by working voltage, and allocates a class of protection against these. Each meter of matting is colour-coded on the reverse to highlight what level of protection it offers
All matting within classes 1, 2, 3 and 4, including those in storage, should be tested every 12 months in accordance with EN 61111: 2009. A visual inspection may be adequate for Class 0, however, a routine dielectric test in accordance with EN 6111:2009 is recommended by the manufacturer.
The BS EN 61111 specification also requires that manufacturers test the material against the following criteria- Mechanical Puncture Resistance, Oil Resistance, Acid Resistance, Slip Resistance, Flame Retardancy, Ageing and Marking Durability.

What was BS921:1976?

This standard is now withdrawn and matting should no longer be sold to this standard. This standard has been superseded by BS EN 61111:2009. The BS921:1976 specification dealt with insulating mats made of solid natural or synthetic rubber used as floor coverings near electric apparatus where circumstances involved the possibility of direct contact with conductors whose voltage did not exceed 650 V R.M.S. to earth.

What sizes are the mats available in?

The working voltage and preference for specification will dictate the thickness of mat you require. There are various size parameters generally available.
Width: Standard widths may vary, however the standard sizes are 450V 1000mm and 450V 1220mm and 650V 914 mm and 650V 1000 mm.
Length: Standard lengths of electrical matting are 10 meters. That apart you may also be able to cut an electrical safety mat to your required size.

What is zero halogen compliant?

Good-quality mats, including Kamfet Electrical Insulation mats are Zero Halogen, making them free of Halogens such as Chlorine, Fluorine Bromine and Iodine. These halogens could cause casualties during fire accidents in confined spaces.

What is REACH and ROHS2 compliance?

Mats, like Kamfet Electrical Insulation mats, comply with REACH and ROHS2 making them free of toxic chemicals that may harm the environment.
REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. It is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals, while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. It also promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce the number of tests on animals.
RoHS 2 (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) on the other hand, restricts the use of certain hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, in electrical and electronic equipment.

What mats does Raychem RPG provide?

Raychem RPG brand “KAMFET” mats are high quality electrical insulation or safety mats made up natural rubber that provide the following standards of matting:
IEC 61111:2009 – Followed by countries in Europe
ASTM D178 – Followed by USA/ Mexico/ Canada
AS/NZS 2978 – 1995 – Followed by Australia/ New Zealand

What are the voltages and thickness offered by Raychem RPG’s IEC 61111:2009 electrical insulation mats?

CLASS MAXIMUM WORKING VOLTAGE (V) THICKNESS (mm)
CLASS 0 1000 2
CLASS 1 7500 2.1
CLASS 2 17000 2.6
CLASS 3 26500 3.2
CLASS 4 36000 5.2

What are the mat sizes available at Raychem RPG?

CLASS
0.6 X 1
0.6 X 5
0.6 X 10
1 X 1
1 X 5
1 X 10
1.2 X 1
1.2 X 5
1.2 X10

Personal Protection Equipment is an area that directly impacts the safety and well-being of your workforce and that in itself is a great reason to pay close attention. We hope this post helps establish the various dimensions this area covers – and especially focuses your attention on Electrical Insulation Mats.

Publish Date : 09/01/2017