When it comes to working closely with heavy vehicles, there’s absolutely no substitute for safety. Organizations like OSHA, MSHA and ASE International are diligent in keeping workers safe through various standards and have determined that when it comes to keeping workplace fatalities near-zero, one of the most important safety mechanisms for any jobsite vehicle are wheel chocks.
What are wheel chocks?
In their simplest form, wheel chocks are wedges that are strategically placed against a vehicle’s wheels to prevent any accidental movement that might occur while the vehicle is parked. Wheel chocks are used in numerous industries—including construction, mining, aviation, and more—to keep vehicles from slipping, sliding, rolling, or shifting when they’re not being operated.
Different types of chocks, made with different materials and purposed for higher weight ratings, are used across applications where they’re most suited. Some chocks have rubberized or graded bottom surfaces that help to improve the chock’s traction in different environments, while some chocks will have higher or shorter wedges to help stifle movement and absorb the impact of unwarranted vehicle movement.
No chock is universal and it pays to make sure that the chock being used is rated and designed to stand up to the application it’s going to be used for!
Why you should use wheel chocks
Industrial wheel chocks are designed to prevent damages to assets and injuries to personnel. Utilizing wheel chocks means placing an emphasis on the well-being and safety of people who may be operating nearby a vehicle’s resting spot—without wheel chocks to prevent accidental vehicle movement, the lives of these people may be in constant danger.
Above simply using wheel chocks as a proactive way to prevent damage to assets and injury to personnel, utilizing wheel chocks is one of the required safety protocols for OSHA and MSHA, under Article 1910.178(k)(1) and Article 30 CFR § 56.14207, respectively.
In situations where wheel chocks are not employed or utilized appropriately, it’s estimated that the cost of damages—between asset damages, injuries and fatalities—can range from $250,000 to more than $4 million should incident occur. The simple addition of industrial wheel chocks can eliminate the potential for stationary vehicle movement and all of the reparations that can come with incident.
Picking the right wheel chocks
Picking the appropriate wheel chocks comes down mostly to the characteristics of the vehicle that needs support. Generally, the right chock is chosen by considering these crucial variables:
- Tire diameter: The bigger the tire diameter, the more surface area the chock is going to need to be rated for. Slope of the chock will also be a concern, depending on the actual size of the tire and the tire type. The correct wheel chock will be about 1/4 of the height of your tire.
- Gross vehicle operating weight: The stronger the vehicle, the stronger the wheel chocks are going to need to be to support that vehicle. It goes without saying that the chocks you’d use for a basic pickup truck are going to be vastly different than the chocks you use for a 400-ton haul truck!
- Surface: What surface is the vehicle parked on and where are the chocks being placed? Gravel, dirt, pavement and other surfaces are all going to have different traction, meaning that different chock types may be required to ensure stability. The grading of the land is also important to take note of and will determine where the chocks are placed on the vehicle in relation to the slope.
- Number of chocks: The number of chocks is going to vary based on the gross operating weight of a vehicle and the surface on which it’s parked. For example, a pickup truck parked on flat pavement may only need two chocks for the front driver’s side tire, while that same truck parked on a paved uphill slope may need four chocks, buffering the back of all four tires.
- Brand: Brand is another important facet to consider because with a brand name comes a brand guarantee. Chocks from Checkers Industrial Safety Products or Discount Ramps’s own Guardian brand are always going to be a superior choice to unnamed or mismatched brands for the sheer fact that they’re backed by comprehensive testing, continuous innovation, strict compliance regulations, and more.
With each of the above variables accounted for, a chock can be adequately chosen and implemented to be successful in keeping just about any vehicle from moving while it’s stationary. Once you’ve selected the correct wheel chocks, it’s important to know how to use them safely. Read our article on using wheel chocks, and find chocks that meet your needs at Discount Ramps today!
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