Wheel chocks represent critical safety equipment in industrial, mining and aviation settings. Their proper and sustained use ensures that lives are protected, and such use is required by the DOT, NFPA, SAE and MSHA. There are multiple wheel chocks on the market, including those constructed of aluminum, wood, rubber and urethane. Federal guidelines do not generally specify the type of material that must be utilized for industrial applications; however, rubber and urethane are the two most commonly selected by safety managers.
In order to determine the best wheel chock for your needs, this guide will closely examine the properties of both urethane and rubber wheel chocks.
When to Choose a Urethane Wheel Chock
Checkers Safety™ began developing and testing urethane wheel chocks in the late 1980s with a significant investment that required extensive engineering and design. Testing initially included the comparison of the new urethane products against chocks made of various materials, including both metal and wood, as well as the more commonly utilized rubber.
Here are the reasons you may choose a urethane wheel chock over another material.
Strength and Flexibility
Initial independent testing showed “and repeated subsequent testing has confirmed” the urethane wheel chocks consistently had a higher load-bearing capacity than their counterparts and were better able to absorb high impacts from heavy machinery. While mimicking the flexibility of rubber, urethane wheel chocks also showed significantly greater strength and resistance to abrasion. Over time, the urethane wheel chocks also proved to better withstand harsh working conditions and extreme weather, and they will not crack, rust or rot in the presence of heat, cold or moisture. This means a longer life and a greater value over time.
Because of the risk of human error in the placement of wheel chocks, ease of use was also considered and evaluated by Checkers Safety in multiple testing environments. Urethane wheel chocks have been shown to be 20 to 50 percent lighter in weight than similarly sized rubber wheel chocks, providing ease of carrying and transport. Urethane construction also allowed the molding of ANSI-compliant chocking guidelines into the chocks themselves; an option not available in traditional rubber manufacturing. Molding of built-in carrying handles was also shown to be of benefit to workers in multiple industrial applications.
The use of urethane in wheel chock manufacturing has allowed other features to promote safety and protect both lives and assets. One of the most impactful is the ability to produce the wheel chocks in high-visibility safety colors, which further aids in proper chock placement as well as raising awareness for those walking or driving around equipment secured by these components.
When to Choose a Rubber Wheel Chock
While urethane wheel chocks certainly have their advantages, the ever-popular rubber wheel chock is not to be discounted. Let’s examine why you may select rubber wheel chocks for your business or personal needs.
Ease of Use
Simply put, rubber wheel chocks have more of a grip than other materials. Rubber’s natural horizontal traction ribs grip the tire and protect the tire and pavement from damage more than other wheel chocks. This also helps reduce human error when installing the chock, which is a vital component to ensuring everyone’s safety.
Rubber wheel chocks can also be placed with either side against the tire, again proving they are easy to install. They are also available with a hollowed-out bottom, making them lighter and more easily transported.
Rubber wheel chocks are cheaper to produce than their urethane counterparts, and that savings is passed along to the consumer. Thus, if something were to damage the chock, it is cheaper to replace a rubber version than other materials. Those using wheel chocks infrequently may choose rubber over other materials if cost is the most important factor.
Have we mentioned that rubber is the most popular material for wheel chocks? Many industries and applications – including those needing chocks for recreational purposes including ATVs, camper trailers and standard vehicles – prefer rubber wheel chocks for daily or infrequent use. Finding parts and accessories to fit your rubber wheel chock is much easier as well because they are so common.
If you still have questions about whether urethane or rubber is the best fit for your wheel chock needs, contact a knowledgeable member of the Checkers Safety staff today.