June 8, 2020 | Blog

Benefits of Synthetic Outrigger Pads

Outrigger Pads: What Are the Benefits?

Safety is always the number one priority when working with lifting equipment. While OSHA regulations don’t require outrigger pads in every situation, it’s always a smart idea to use them when conducting lifting operations. In this article, we’ll discuss the top benefits of using outrigger pads and demonstrate why polymer pads are superior to wood alternatives. 

Weight Distribution for Stability

Which feels safer to stand on: a ladder or a scaffold? If you ask us, we’d take the scaffold hands down. That’s because a scaffold spreads the weight it’s carrying over a larger surface area—keeping it more balanced and less likely to tip over. 

An outrigger system increases the footprint of your equipment, providing a much more stable base for your load. But it’s important to keep in mind that because the outriggers are carrying the entire load, the force needs to be distributed further at the point of contact with the ground. That’s where outrigger pads come in.

The outrigger pad’s job is to displace that immense pressure across the ground surface that comes in contact with the base of the outrigger extension. Without the disbursement of that pressure, the ground could succumb to that pressure and cause the crane to tip over. Using outrigger pads is like giving your equipment a scaffold to work from instead of a rickety old ladder.

Benefits of Synthetic Outrigger Pads

Wood outrigger pads are widely used because they are inexpensive and easy to source. However, wood outrigger pads have some significant drawbacks. Industrial plastic outrigger pads, like the ones engineered here at Cope Plastics, are made from an extremely tough polymer called UHMW (ultra high molecular weight) polyethylene. There are several reasons why UHMW outrigger pads outperform those made of hardwood. 

Moisture and Chemical Resistance

Wood is highly porous and soaks up any liquids it encounters. Outrigger pads are constantly exposed to groundwater, precipitation, and any potential contaminants within the groundwater. This can include motor oil, road salts, gasoline, and other chemicals. 

Synthetic outrigger pads have a better defense against the harmful effects of moisture and chemicals. UHMW is impervious to both, so your outrigger pads will not suffer from the degradation of exposure to these elements. 


Because wood is absorbent, it not only soaks up the chemicals in the liquids it encounters, it also takes on extra weight. With job site injuries an ongoing concern, the last thing construction operators need is an employee straining their back while placing an outrigger pad. 

The risk of injury is much less with synthetic outrigger pads, which weigh half as much as wood. And as we’ve already covered, they won’t take on extra weight due to moisture. 


The strength of UHMW comes from its long chains of high-mass molecules. It has the greatest impact strength of any thermoplastic that’s currently being manufactured. Our UHMW outrigger pads are designed to flex slightly on rough terrain, which protects them from breaking when under stress. Wood is susceptible to breaking and splintering, and also expands and warps due to moisture absorption, which weakens the pad.

While wood is a less expensive material, UHMW is much longer lasting. Instead of replacing your outrigger pads regularly, you can get a long useful life out of just a single set of synthetic pads. 

Safety First

Outrigger pads help protect your team members and equipment when you’re performing critical lifting operations. Cope Plastics has engineered outrigger pads in many sizes and configurations to work with cranes, earthmoving equipment, concrete pumpers, rail service equipment, and more. Upgrade your job site safety today by contacting Cope to get yours!

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