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Stab Pads Safe Use and Handling Guidelines

1. Think Safety. 

  • No safety guidelines can cover all possible scenarios. If in doubt, slow down and stop the process. Think it through.

  • Look for impediments, depressions, voids, trenches, excavations, slopes or signs of poor ground conditions that can lead to an unsafe situation. If found, correct the situation to a compacted and level surface or do not set up.

  • Be aware of potential vehicle traffic that may conflict with your area of operation. Redirect traffic or adjust your stab pad set up as needed.

  • By itself, no stab pad can provide a full safety guarantee. Common sense always needs to be used.

 2. Always Follow the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s Guidelines.

  • Operators must use all of the original equipment manufacturer’s guidelines for their equipment when using outrigger pads.

  • Failure to comply with all manufactures fitting and training guidelines can result in serious injuries or fatalities in addition to significant property and equipment damage.

3. Always Use Stab Pads

Every time the outriggers are deployed, your outrigger pads must be under them.


4. Assess Your Ground Conditions

Ultimately the ground is supporting everything. It must be taken into consideration in every application.

  • Stabiliser/stab pads should always be set-up on sufficiently compacted, drained and level surfaces.

  • All uneven ground should be leveled prior to the placement of any stab pad.


5. Managing Deflection 

If excessive deflection is occurring due to ground displacement, the ground is not suitable to provide the load bearing capacity that is needed to support the load. Excessive deflection limits proper load distribution, and can cause damage to outrigger pads or crane mats over time. The below methods can be used to improve both the set-up and ground conditions to reduce deflection.

  • Add additional supporting materials that are more rigid and create a larger area.

  • Add additional supporting materials that are stiffer to ensure rigidity, stability and safety.

  • Compact the soil using appropriate soil compaction equipment such as a roller, plate soil compactor, rammer or similar equipment.

  • Add rock, gravel or cement like materials to the soil to increase the ground bearing capacity.

  • Blade the soil to remove insufficiently compacted surface layers and expose sufficiently compacted ground.

  • Allow wet soils time to dry, drain needed areas and/or add rock, gravel or cement like materials as noted above.

  • Verify the stab pads you are using have enough surface area to spread the outrigger load over the area required to be equal to or lesser than the ground bearing capacity.


6. Inspection 

How to inspect your stab pads:

  • Stab pad must be smooth and free from debris in order to evenly spread the load and achieve solid contact with the stab pad.

  • Always inspect your outrigger pads and crane mats for material integrity prior to use. If they are compromised for any reason or you are unsure, do not use them.

  • If using additional cribbing, dunnage or other supporting materials in conjunction with stab pads, always inspect them for cracking, warping, rotting or other signs of possible failure. If the additional materials show signs of compromised integrity, do not use them.


7. Proper Placement of Outrigger Pad

 Proper pad placement is critical to effective load support and distribution.

  • The crane outrigger float should be placed squarely in the center of an outrigger pad or crane mat. 

  • Outrigger pads placed outside target area (center of the pad) will result in non-uniform ground bearing pressures.


8. Stacked Stab Pad Setups

Failure to comply with the below guidance may result in “point loading”.  Point loading concentrates the load and increases pressure, rather than spreads the load and decreases pressure. Point loading increases the possibility of a tip-over and with it, serious injuries or fatalities in addition to significant property and equipment damage.

  • When stacking stab pads, always stack a smaller  pad on top of a larger underlying pad.

  • Never stack a larger stab pad on top of smaller stab pads, cribbing, dunnage or other supporting materials.

  • Always use materials of a known strength that are designed as support for heavy equipment.


9. Do Not Span Voids or Depressions

Do not under any circumstances use stab pads to set up over depressions or voids of any type. Supporting materials of any kind should always be set-up on compacted, drained and level surfaces. Monitor your stab pad setup, ground conditions, personnel and surroundings at all times for potential safety problems.

10. Proper Maintenance and Stowing

 Maintain stab pads using the below methods.

  • Use low to medium pressure water to remove soil, mud, road chemicals, hydraulic fluid or other debris. 

  • Alternate the use of sides to distribute any potential surface wear and maximize shape recovery. 

  • Secure all stab pads prior to vehicle transit in a way that prevents their motion or loss. 

11. Safe Lifting and Handling

Use the following guidelines when handling stab pads:

  • When lifting stab pads users should use their legs as the primary source of lifting power.

  • To safely place pads that are standing on edge into position, two methods may be used.

  • Dropping: Verify all personnel not involved in lowering the stab pad are a safe distance away from where the pad will be placed. Have the personnel involved in the lowering stand on the side away from where it will be located. Once the area where the pad will be positioned is clear, allow the pad to fall away and drop into place.

  • Lowering: Verify all personnel not involved in lowering the stab pad are a safe distance away from where the pad will be placed. In unison, slowly lower the pad by bending at the knees while maintaining a flat back until the pad lies flat.


Tips for Safe Stab Pads Setup

1. Remember your responsibilities. 

Know the bearing strength of the ground and soils. Because this is an extremely complex combination, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a geotechnical engineer. A low-cost way to determine ground conditions is to use a Dynamic Cone Penetrometer, which is portable and easy-to-use. This information can be compared to ground bearing pressure charts for different soil types.


2. Identify any sub-surface hazards and avoid if possible.

3. Evaluate and improve the ground if needed. Ways to improve the ground include compaction, removing un-compacted surface layers, or bringing in rock or other dense inorganic material. If the ground is wet, allow time to get the moisture out.


4. Know the maximum pressure the crane will exert on each outrigger during the operation, or the maximum outrigger reaction force. Crane manufacturers provide this information for each crane model, and generally, it can be found in your operation manual.  Many also offer free software solutions that allow you to input the lift data, which then outputs the outrigger reaction forces that will be generated.


5. Select the right size stab pad. Undersized pads can put you in an unstable condition, but oversized pads are inefficient in terms of purchase, labor, and transportation costs. Several methods are commonly used in the industry. 

6. Choose stab pads that are designed and constructed to meet or exceed the bearing, flex and shear strength required. Their purpose is to distribute the load from the outrigger float over a large enough area that the bearing pressure to the ground surface is acceptable. They must be stiff enough that the crane will not go out of level as the load swings.

7. Never place blocking, cribbing, pads or mats under the outrigger beam. Only use them under the outrigger floats or pontoons.

8. Monitor every lift. If the outrigger pad or crane mat is showing significant deflection or bending, stop the lift.  The outrigger force is greater than the pad and ground can support.  Additional appropriate blocking or cribbing should be added. If the pad or mat is being driven into the ground, stop the lift. The pressure under the pad exceeds the ground bearing capacity. A larger pad, blocking or cribbing is needed to spread the load over a larger area, or the ground needs to be improved to adequately support the load.


9. Use common sense. If it doesn’t look right, stop. If it doesn’t act right, stop. If it doesn’t feel right, stop. Products are never a replacement for common sense. Use your common sense. 

Disclaimer: The information on this website is of a general nature and  does not replace any statutory requirements under any relevant State and Territory legislation. It should be used with caution and as a general guide only. Bearing Thermal Resources  is not liable for any loss resulting from any action taken by the Consumer.