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Electrical Matting FAQs

electrical safety matting

Specifically designed for use in front of high-voltage equipment such as swticboards, electrical safety matting is a special grade of rubber in mat form that has excellent insulating properties. Providing safety for operators and maintenance staff from electrical shock, it should be used in any area where the health and safety risk assessment has shown possible exposure to high-voltage shock.

 


How do rubber safety mats work?

Rubber is a natural dielectric material and will therefore inhibit the flow of electric charge as a result of its molecular structure preventing the free flow of electrons. The dielectric and electrically resistant properties of Rubber make it an ideal insulator. This, combined with the flexibility and cushioning nature of the material make it a perfect choice for electrical safety matting.

Rubber, due to its properties of resistivity, is used in many applications throughout industry to insulate and protect; it is an obvious choice for electrical safety matting and is tested vigorously to ensure the level of protection is met.

Maintaining the insulating properties of the Rubber is intrinsically linked with the construction of the compound. Any additives (dyes, fillers, preservatives and curatives) can all affect the electrical resistance, hence the need for strict quality control standards to be applied throughout manufacture to maintain the insulation performance.

How are our mats manufactured?

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.

Calendering: Rolls are formed by calendaring, where the compound passes between more rollers to the 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 calender with thickness control.

Rotocuring: The second part of the calendaring process is preformed on rotocures, where a ribbed pattern is applied to the top surface and identifying tape is applied to the underside.

Drying & Testing: The rolls are then air-dried before passing through a 2-electrode testing station to ensure every running metre complies to the correct electrical specification according to the thickness; 11kv at 6mm and 15kv at 9.5mm.

Finishing: Following these processes, the finished material is wound into rolls. We are able to supply in these full rolls, or cut to the size ordered on our website.

What protection does an electrical mat offer?

Important safety information!
Electrical safety floor mats can only protect against earth contact through the floor: -
It is important to note that electrical mats 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 (such as those found on control panels) and an exposed live conductor.

Persons could receive a lethal shock unless they are also protected by personal protective equipment such as our electrical safety gloves.

Only suitably qualified personnel should work on electrical equipment.

We would strongly recommend that if you are responsible for Health & Safety in an environment where there is risk of electric shock you should research the following resources:


  • The Health and Safety Executive have a useful section on their website regarding Electrical Safety
  • They also publish HSE Information Sheet EIS 37 Safety in electrical testing: Switchgear and control gear

Where should I use the mat?

Wherever there is a risk of electrical shock a safety mat should be deployed and used at the location. Such locations can include:

  • 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 safety mat?

In combination with personal protection equipment (electrically insulated gloves) the operator or user should stand on the mat in front of the electrical equipment. This will avoid a direct short through their body to the ground. 

Which product should I choose?

There is now only one industry standard for Electrical Safety Matting, following the withdrawal of BS921:1976 in January 2013.  This BS standard has now been replaced with an EU-wide standard, itself in place since 1992 but previously in place alongside the BS921:1976 standard.  This harmonisation means only the IEC EN61111:2009 Live Working - Electrical Insulating Matting is current under CENELEC regulations.

BS921:1976

This standard is now withdrawn and matting can no longer be sold to this standard. However, the matting which was previously manufactured to this standard is still available and you will find it under the following headings (please note, however, that these products no longer meet a current recognised British Standard): 

450V protection.

If you are using 240V single phase switchgear we recommend you allow for a 90% margin by specifying 450V protection by purchasing the appropriate matting from our range of products.

Up to its maximum working voltage of 450V this will protect the user. These mats are tested electrically up to 11,000V removing any possibility of contamination, holes or porosity in the rubber.

650V protection.

If you're working with 415V three phase switchgear we recommend you allow a 50% margin of safety by using the 650V mat for protection.

The grade of rubber will protect users up to a maximum working voltage of 650V. Tested to 15,000V.

What was BS921:1976?

BS921 was a British Standard Specification for rubber mats for electrical purposes; it is now recognised within the trade as having been superseded by BS EN61111:2009.  The BS921:1976 specification dealt with insulating mats made of solid natural or synthetic rubber used as floor coverings near electrical apparatus where circumstances involve the possibility of direct contact with conductors whose voltage does not exceed 650 V r.m.s. to earth

The standard defined:

  • Composition
  • Construction
  • Thickness and width
  • Workmanship and finish
  • Performance requirements
  • Marking

Key requirements of the standard stipulated that

  • 100% of the mat is tested at 15kV for 1 minutes and the leakage stipulation tested
  • The mat is clearly marked with the test standard, date and identification mark of the manufacturer
  • The dimensions always meet the specification
  • The rubber compound meets the physical property requirements.

BS EN 61111:2009

The CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization) has been harmonising European safety products for a number of years, and the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) drew up an electrical safety matting standard in 1992.

The IEC61111 standard categorises 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.  The classes, and corresponding colour codes, are as follows:

 

Class

AC Maximum Working Voltage

Colour Coding
0
1000V
Red
1
7500V
White
2
17000V
Yellow
3
26500V
Green
4
36000V
Orange

 

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 dialectic test in accordance with EN 6111:2009 may be performed on request, and 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

  • Marking Durability

What sizes are the mats available in?

The working voltage and preference for specification will dictate the thickness of mat you require.

Width
Standard widths available are shown against each product on the site, and may vary in accordance with availability, however the standard sizes are 450V 1000mm and 450V 1220mm and 650V 914mm and 650V 1000mm.

Length
Standard lengths of electrical matting we supply are 10 metres long.

Cut lengths;- we can cut you an electrical safety mat to your required size if you want to buy less than a full roll of electrical matting.

Be aware that the recommendations above should be applied to minimum lengths as well.

Disclaimer:

Risk Assessment for electrical hazards:

Anyone currently using BS921:1976 standard matting, or any other rubber matting which claims to offer electrical protection, has an obligation to carry out a risk assessment to ensure their employees are protected from electrical hazards; this is a statutory legal requirement.

Please be aware that all information on this website is offered in accordance with current known standards. It is the responsibility of the customer to evaluate requirements and seek expert safety advice.

 

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