What Is A Presence Sensing Safety Mat And How Is It Used?

Installing high quality sensor mats helps keep employees safe in hazardous industrial environments where heavy machinery is used.

Have you ever wondered how the door magically opens when you approach a grocery store entrance? The answer is presence sensing mats with an "open switch" design. When weight or pressure is applied, the switch closes and the mat sends an impulse to the door, causing it to open. When the weight is removed, the switch opens, and the door automatically closes.

Presence sensing safety mats are similar in design, but they have a much different purpose. These unique mats are used for industrial safety and are usually found in manufacturing environments or other industrial areas that require the use of heavy machinery.

Top of the line presence sensing safety mats are constructed of the highest quality materials and are made to withstand wear and tear even in the harshest environments. Every part of the mat should be watertight as well as resistant to chemicals such as machine lubricants and industrial cleaning solutions. These mats must meet strict standards as prescribed by the American National Standards Institute and OSHA.

Presence sensing safety mats come in different shapes, sizes, and even different colors to compliment the look of the workplace. But, aesthetics aside, employee safety has been dramatically improved by safety mats. Today's safety mats have many different features. Some are actually self monitoring and send information to the system if they become damaged or detect a malfunction.

A leader in the industry even offers a safety mat that is designed to increase worker's comfort thereby resulting in fewer aches and pains and reduced general fatigue, where workers are on their feet for long periods of time. Fatigue is often the culprit behind mistakes and accidents, so this is one more way that safety mats help protect workers. Presence sensing safety mats must not only be durable and reliable, they must also be highly sensitive. One company boasts of mats that require less than five pounds of pressure to trigger a response.

There are of course industry specifications for determining how these mats must be installed and how near or far they must be from the equipment they are guarding. The goal is to generate a response before the machine operator, or any other person, gets close enough to the machinery to risk accident or injury. The American National Standards Institute instructs employers to insure that safety mats are located far enough away that the machine operator will not be able to reach the hazard before movement of the machine has stopped.

This standard will help an employer decide what size mat to use and where it must be placed, and it obviously applies to the type of mat that is designed to stop movement of the machinery as a person approaches (i.e. the typical "open switch" design). Another type of mat does just the opposite and is used for machines that cannot be left unattended. The latter stops the machinery if the operator steps away and will only resume activity once the operator is back in place.

Safety mats can be used along with other styles of machine guards when protecting access to extremely large machines, those with more than one hazard point, equipment that is housed in a somewhat high traffic zone, or when guarding especially dangerous machinery. As compared to other types of machine guards, safety mats allow workers more space and freer range of motion than other types of restraints.

Over the past fifty years manufacturers of presence sensing safety mats have continued to develop the quality, sensitivity, and function, making safety mats the most dependable, least expensive, and most frequently used machine guarding products currently on the market.

© High Speed Ventures 2011