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Written by
on 01 August 2012


Mats play a vital role in the health and safety of individuals, whether it’s anti-fatigue, anti-slip or electrical matting. Each mat has an important function to protect the workplace, the equipment and also the morale and productivity of its workers.

Preventing Electric Shock and Injury

This is especially true when Electricity is brought into the picture.  There are dangers to both the operator and the equipment in the form of electric shock and electric static discharge.  To combat this there are two types of mats that can be used non-Conductive mats (otherwise known as switchboard mats) or conductive mats. Below we outline the difference between the two:-

Switchboard Mats

Electrical mats should always be placed in areas where maintenance or operating staff are working on high or low voltage apparatus to prevent them from the risk of sometimes deadly electrical shock.  Switchboard matting is made out of a special insulating rubber which ranges from 450 volt to the BS921 approved 650 volt grade of mat. When purchasing a switchboard mat it is paramount that you buy a quality mat that has passed all relevant safety standards. These kind of mats are put through rigorous testing which reinforces the fact that they are placed to save lives. Always make sure you routinely check your mat for cracking or wear and tear and replace immediately.

ESD Mats

There are two types of ESD mat: static dissipative mats and conductive mats. As human beings we can quickly attract static electricity.  Walking, shifting position or even moving in a chair can cause some static build up. Static is very dangerous to electric equipment. It is quite easy to transfer static discharge across our bodies to electrical equipment which is very sensitive to static transference. This is especially true around computer equipment where static can destroy memory chips, processors or even in the motherboard. Static discharge has even been known to cause flammable chemicals to ignite!! In order to prevent this an antistatic mat is placed down near sensitive equipment.

Static dissipative mats have a high electrical resistance. They allow static discharge to be taken away from the machine and into the mat, the body acting as conduit. This is done at a slower rate than the conductive mat and is typically used when working on microdevices that would react badly to a sudden transference of static charge from the device to the mat.

Conductive mats disperse electricity a lot quickly when grounded properly. Therefore these types of mats are typically used near equipment that is extra sensitive. In order to be effective both mats should be grounded to allow the static to dissipate properly.

Neil Maycock writes on electrical safety matters for Electrical Mats Direct

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.