December 15, 2017

Wheel Chocks: Offering enhanced safety for employees and assets

Choosing the type and size of Wheel Chocks is critical, as it ensures safety for employees and financial investment such as vehicles and haul trucks in the mines.

Wheel Chocks in the mines are designed to prevent unwanted movement in vehicles when placed in park. They are utilized on vehicles of all sizes, from bakkies (lubrication trucks), up to the world’s largest haul trucks and heavy maintenance vehicles.

Chocks available on the market can be made from materials which include wood, metal, rubber and foam.All are able to perform basic chocking, but there are hazards associated with most of these materials. For instance, wood is not load rated and it can splinter causing Workplace Health and Safety (WH & S) issues. They can be heavy in larger sizes, have the potential to absorb oil, fuel and solvents causing an environmental concern. Metal can cause tyre damage which can be very expensive.

Rubber can be affected by oils, fuel and solvents which might compromise the load capacity and most importantly they are susceptible to being ejected as they store energy when they are compressed. In addition, fiberglass and rotocast polyethylene chocks are unpredictable in load bearing, and they can also be susceptible to collapse if not perfectly square to the tyre.

However foam chocks through testing and trials, are the best all round in performance and safety, as they overcome most of the challenges that affect the types of chocks/materials previously mentioned.

The Wheel Chock industry has evolved with time and improved technology. Starting with the chocks that suit vehicles from a basic civilian motor vehicle, through to the world’s largest mining vehicles. National Plastics and Rubber is currently developing a range of aircraft chocks which will be utilizing the technology that has been developed for the mining industry.These products will adhere to the strict rules and regulations of the aviation industry, explains Peter Tulley, Managing Director for National Plastics and Rubber.

Chocks are designed to secure a vehicle safely,by stopping unsafe and unwanted movement. If there is a possibility that a vehicle could roll from its parked position due to the slope of the ground, or has a chance of moving from the impact of other vehicles, chocks would be required.

The industry is flooded with an enormous number of wheel chocks.There is a need to test to confirm if the product is suitable to perform a given task. While most chocks can work on a flat surface, it is when they are used on steep roads or when the vehicle is impacted that they need to perform. National Plastics and Rubber offer a product designed to reduce or eliminate ejection when load is applied.

“Every chock we manufacture is designed to suit a range of tyre sizes and vehicle mass, and then tested in the field in the conditions that it is expected to be used. Work place injuries are avoided by using our light weight chocks, and our largest chock that suits the world’s largest mining vehicles weighs less than 15 kilos”, further explains Tulley.

It is critical that the correct size is used, as well as making use of the labeled chocks with guidelines that includes- how to perform risk assessment to determine the quantity of chocks required, position chocks on solid surface with vehicle stopped and park brake applied, place chocks squarely against the centre of the tyre, and never use damaged or drive over chocks.

Chocks are the last line of defence as most vehicles have a parking brake system that should perform adequately ,and the only limitation of the chocks comes from the surrounding environment such as the soft or boggy ground where the chock could be pressed into, leading to the vehicle rolling over them.

National Plastics and Rubber- stopping unsafe and unwanted movement

National Plastics and Rubber, the Wheel Chock market leader, started designing and manufacturing solutions for the mining and manufacturing industries 17 years ago. The products manufactured include those from polyurethane, rubber and industrial plastics.

“We use a wide range of material so that we can provide the best solution for each problem. We have been making wheel chocks since we commenced business, but it was ten years ago when we were approached by BHP Billiton to make our chocks lighter. At that stage our largest chock was 25kg and BHP Billiton wanted it reduced to 15kg”, Tulley explains.

“It took us the best part of 12 months of research and development to achieve suitable product and to have it fully tested at the mines. We have basically scaled back the sizes from the largest chock”, adds Tulley.

The company has a unique design that allows its chocks to be a single component compared to the other manufacturers who need to have bolt on rubber feet. National Plastics and Rubber’s range of chocks are field tested in conditions that they are designed to work in, and materials are also tested from each batch prior to them being released.

It is imperative that before acquiring wheel chocks- you check with supplier if the product has been tested and what quality control measure do they have, to ensure that every chock is going to perform according to expectations. Don’t purchase wheel chocks based on price- Don’t ever underestimate how important the job of a wheel chock. It might just save your life, Tulley concludes.

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