British Standards Institute withdrew the long standing BS921:1976

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Electrical safety matting is a vital part of electrical safety and is typically used for protection around areas where high voltage (HV) equipment – such as a switchboard – is being used and worked upon, but it is also available for working on low and medium voltage (LV and MV) equipment.

Typical applications include when working in front of switchboards, machine control gear, in plant rooms and lift control gear rooms, and also as portable protection for site engineers working on live equipment.

BS EN 61111:2009 v BS 921:1976

BS 921:1976 was withdrawn because it conflicted with the now current UK national standard of electrical insulating matting, which is BS EN 61111:2009. Under the auspices of BS EN 61111:2009, the matting must withstand a greatly extended testing regime compared with the old BS 921:1976 standard.

Compliance with BS EN 61111:2009 means that the matting will have a number of benefits over the BS 921: 1976 variety, as it is oil and acid resistant, flame retardant, lighter in weight, and there are a various classes for different voltage applications.

It is believed that matting manufactured to the superseded BS 921: 1976 regulation is still available, as it is suitable for its originally intended use in the UK. Now, however, it is known as ‘Electrical Safety Matting’ tested to 650V working insulation.

Boddingtons Electrical now manufacturer IEC61111 insulating matting for electrical safety, protection and working on low, medium and high voltage substations and switchgear up to 33kV – the IEC61111 standard provides a selection category for Low Voltage (1000V) to High Voltage (36kV). The selection table below informs and explains the IEC standard classification according to the maximum working voltages for rubber insulating matting.

Working Voltage, Withstand Test & Proof Test Of Electrical Safety Matting

The withstand test of insulating matting for electrical insulation is applied to each manufacturing batch of switchboard matting to ensure it does not have an electrical breakdown if exposed to high voltages – the working and withstand voltages must not be confused.

The proof test of insulating matting are dielectrical resistance tests provided by the mat manufacturer on the total running metre of the product and are used to safeguard a standard conformity of resistance throughout the entire section, roll or surface area of the electrical mat – the proof test must be applied to the insulating mats for a set time at a specified voltage level.

Insulating rubber switchgear matting in accordance with IEC 61111 or BS EN 61111 can be used to prevent earth contact with the floor however the matting will not provide any electrical shock protection if a person touches metal areas of the switchboard or control panel simultaneously with exposed live conductors which are likely to be at earth potential and readily accessible.

Class Of Insulating Matting According To IEC61111Proof TestAC Maximum Working Voltage Withstand Test Of Insulating Matting
Class 0 Matting5kV1000V – LV Low Voltage10kV
Class 1 Matting10kV7500V – MV Medium Voltage20kV
Class 2 Matting20kV17000V – MV Medium Voltage30kV
Class 3 Matting30kV26500V – MV Medium Voltage40kV
Class 4 Matting40kV36000V – HV High Voltage50kV


The IEC61111 matting specification covers electrical insulation and performance criterion including:

  • Mechanical Puncture Resistance
  • Oil Resistance
  • Acid Resistance
  • Slip Resistance
  • Flame Retardancy
  • Ageing
  • Marking Durability

IEC 61111 Has Replaced BS921 Electrical Rubber Matting StandardInsulating Matting Mats

Originally published in March 1976 BS921:1976 was the British Standard covering Rubber Mats for Electrical Purposes with a maximum working voltage of 650 volts for LV low voltage electrical protection – the insulating matting standard was withdrawn in January 2013 in a UK and EU initiative to provide harmonisation and improved Health & Safety and replaced by BS EN 61111. The exact replacement to BS921 mats is the Class 0 matting with a maximum working voltage of 1000 volts according to BS EN 61111 – the higher voltage rating provides enhanced insulating protection including performance improvements such as slip, puncture, acid and oil resistance. The 3mm thickness of BS EN 61111 matting is significantly less than BS921 (8.5mm) reducing environmental impact through cost reductions in storage and transportation. BS EN 61111 standard provides specifications for insulating mats for LV MV HV electrical working up to 33kV/36kV.