Buying Guides

What Are ABC Fire Extinguishers?

ABC Fire extinguishers use a dry chemical called monoammonium phosphate which smothers flames to put out many different types of fire. Identified on the canister by their blue label stating ‘Powder’, the pale-yellow extinguishing agent in ABC powder extinguishers is suitable for use on three classes of fire: Class A: Solid combustibles such as wood, paper and textiles Class B: Flammable liquids and gases such as petroleum, propane and solvents Class C: Energized electrical sources   So How Do ABC Fire Extinguishers Work? The extinguisher is filled with monoammonium phosphate and nitrogen, which is used to pressurise the canister. When the extinguisher is activated (either manually or automatically), the extinguishing agent sprays out of the canister and creates an inert...


Which Self-Healing Cutting Mats are Best?

If you’ve ever used a Self-Healing Cutting Mat, you’ll know what a brilliant invention they are. Any lines or marks you make on the mat after using your Stanley knife or scalpel just close up, leaving a smooth surface with no grooves or marks. You have the same flat cutting surface ready for your next task – and your cutting tools and work tables last much longer, too. But with several types on the market, how do you know which one is best for a particular task? We’ve done the hard work for you and assessed three of our best-selling cutting mats against a whole host of factors, from self-healing and anti-glare properties to resistance to shocks and tears, and...


Our Best Non Slip Mats For Smooth Floors

When buying a door mat, whether for homes or offices, it’s easy to be swayed by first impressions: the colour, perhaps, or its texture. But many of the cheaper mats you’ll find in your local DIY or homewares store have a thin vinyl backing, which means they will skid and slide around on smooth floors. It’s a surprisingly common cause of accidents, especially in the home. Instead, it’s worth looking for a door mat that has a rubber backing, as rubber has fantastic non-slip properties that help keep the mat in position. Sometimes a vinyl backing will look like rubber but isn’t, so it’s worth checking. For an entrance mat with real gripping power, we suggest going for a rubber...


Our Best Barrier Mats (And Why!)

Searching for the perfect barrier mat can be time consuming, with so many considerations to make and different options available. Luckily, we have compiled this list of the Best Barrier Mats in our range, suitable for a variety of different needs. From 100% recycled options to mats with fantastic water retention, below are our top picks. It is worth noting that the larger the mat, the more effective it will be at removing dirt and water from shoes. The more times it is stepped on, the better! For this reason, we recommend choosing the biggest mat you have room for in your space. Our mats also come in a variety of colours so you can be sure to find your...


How Long Do Fire Extinguishers Last?

We all know fire extinguishers are an essential piece of safety equipment for business and non-domestic premises, as well as vehicles and residential spaces. What is often forgotten is that they don’t last forever. Over time, the canisters can become corroded by their contents, and the high pressure needed can eventually weaken body seams, among other common problems which occur with old extinguishers. So how long can you expect your extinguisher to last? So How Long Do Fire Extinguishers Last? Firstly, all of the extinguishers in the First Mats range have a guaranteed lifespan of 5 years, although they can remain safe and effective for longer with proper maintenance and storage. As a very general range, extinguishers can last anywhere from...


Choosing the Right Ladder For the Job

It’s one of the great workplace safety myths: ladders are not allowed to be used in the workplace. Of course they are: the Work at Height Regulations1 say they can be a sensible option for short, low-risk tasks. There are other weird and wonderful ladder myths still doing the rounds, and here at First Mats we’ve heard most of them. No, you don’t need to be trained to use a ladder, and there’s no ban on using ladders to access scaffolding2. It is true, though, that ladders must be safe and fit for purpose. And there are a huge number of different types of ladders, from step ladders to warehouse steps and extension ladders, each with their own safety features....


What Are Convex Mirrors Used For?

Convex Mirrors are used to help store owners check for shoplifters, to see what’s coming round the corner on a road or warehouse and to shield our eyes from the sun’s rays (via sunglasses). Convex mirrors are so useful and ubiquitous we sometimes barely register them. They’re even hard at work in the Hubble telescope, working in tandem with concave mirrors to bring us magnificent images from the deepest regions of the universe. Convex mirrors are versatile, for sure, but what is it that makes them so? How do Convex Mirrors work? First, a quick reminder of what convex mirrors are, and how they work. They have a curved mirrored surface that bulges outwards and this affects the way light hits...


What is the 1 to 4 Rule for Ladder Safety

Knowing how to position a ladder properly before you climb up it is one of those life hacks, like dealing with a grizzly bear or a poisonous snake, that most people have an idea about – but this one’s a lot more useful to us in the UK and undoubtedly saves many lives every year. How do you set up a ladder? It’s all about the angle of the ladder against the wall. The magic number recommended by the HSE1 is 75 degrees, so that the base of the ladder is set away from the wall at one-quarter of the working length of the ladder. Put another way: for every four metres of height you need to climb, place the...


How to Use a Ladder Safely

Every day, around two million ladders are used around the UK – that’s an awful lot of climbing up and down ladders on all kinds of sites, both indoors and out. Thankfully, there are only a handful of ladder deaths each year, but working from height remains a common cause of accidents and knowing how to use a ladder safely is a must for anyone planning to use one. HSE has some useful things to say on the subject1, and we’ve drawn on their advice for this article, which looks at when a ladder is the best option, how to choose a ladder, how to check a ladder is safe to use and how to use a ladder or stepladder...


How Do Spill Kits Work?

If you’ve ever had to clean up spilled engine oil in the garage at home, you’ll know that using ordinary rags or cloths can be a dirty, slow job. That may be OK in a domestic setting, but in the workplace, you’ll need a quicker and safer approach. For one thing, an oil slip is extremely slippery, and just one small patch on the floor could cause a nasty slip or trip. Then there’s the risk of fire and the environmental hazards, not to mention the disruption to work if there’s no ready way to deal with the spill. It may not be an accident on the scale of a big marine oil disaster, but it’s still a workplace hazard...