Why use anti-fatigue matting?

Why use anti-fatigue matting?

It is estimated that half the UK workforce could be facing health risks caused by prolonged standing. We’ve talked previously in this blog about the risks of sitting all day but what about the risks of standing all day?

People who spend most of the working day on their feet are at greater risk for a number of health issues including:

  • general muscular fatigue
  • circulatory problems
  • varicose veins
  • swelling and, eventually, chronic inflammation in the feet and legs
  • degenerative joint damage, especially to the spine, hips, knees and feet
  • problems with the feet ranging from bunions and corns, to heel spurs and flat feet
  • lower back pain
  • stiffness in the neck and shoulders
  • heart problems
  • stroke
  • difficulties during pregnancy

How can you protect your workers?

The best way to reduce the effects of standing for long periods is to provide workers with a seat and regular breaks. It is recommended that workers stand for no more than 30% of their working day. However, we know that this isn’t always practical and so anti-fatigue matting provides an effective solution to reduce tiredness and discomfort caused by unavoidable standing, especially when combined with the right footwear.

How does anti-fatigue matting work?

Anti-fatigue mats allow the muscles to subtly contract and expand as they adjust to the flexibility of the mat and work to keep balance; this small movement is enough to significantly improve blood flow and oxygen to the heart as well as evenly distributing pressure throughout the lower limbs, thereby reducing the strain on muscles and joints.

While the matting will not completely eliminate the problems caused by standing for hours at a time, it will reduce both long term and short term effects and help to alleviate any associated pain.

What are the health benefits of anti-fatigue matting?

  • Stimulates blood circulation.
  • Improves posture.
  • Reduces pressure on the spine and back muscles, resulting in less lower back pain.
  • Reduces stiffness in joints by encouraging minor but regular shifts in standing position.
  • Reduces the energy used by supporting muscles, relieving muscle fatigue.
  • Relieves tension in the shoulders and neck, thereby reducing the likelihood of headaches.
  • Relieves foot pressure.
  • Provides insulation against cold floors, which further fatigue the body.

Who could benefit and where should it be used?

Anti-fatigue mats are a worthwhile investment anywhere that workers will be standing for long periods, whether on shop floors or production lines, in hair salons or workshops. They are also recommended for use in offices with sit-stand desks. However, they are particularly necessary with cold hard floors, such as concrete floors.

To further protect your staff, you should consider the environment in which workers are standing in order to get the right mat. If you have workers standing for prolonged periods in wet or oily environments, for example, then you should select a mat with both non-slip and anti-fatigue properties; a standard non slip mat is not a suitable substitute for anti-fatigue matting as it is not designed to provide high levels of comfort underfoot.

Where’s the proof?

A number of scientific studies have been carried out to support claims that anti-fatigue mats are beneficial to the health and productivity of workers.

A study conducted by Professor George Havenith and Lucy Dorman from the Department of Human Sciences at Loughborough University (2012) showed statistically significant benefits to participants standing on anti-fatigue mats when compared to standing on a concrete floor, with particular benefits to the lower and upper legs and lower back. This is supported by the study carried out by Professor Redha Taiar, Director of the Biomedical Laboratory at the University of Reims (2011), which recognised that levels of pain and discomfort were lower when using an anti-fatigue mat than when standing on cold, hard floors.

What are the benefits for the employer?

Increased comfort means that workers are able to concentrate for longer periods of time; this reduces the risk of accidents in the workplace as well as increasing productivity.

Currently, one of the most common complaints from workers is of back pain and it can lead not only to unhappy employees but also to lost revenue due to workers’ compensation. However, the study carried out by Loughborough University showed that anti-fatigue mats led to better posture and reduced pressure on the spine and back muscles, reducing the risk of back injuries.

Improving standing conditions could also reduce absenteeism due to sick leave. It is estimated that over two million days of sick leave per year in the UK are a direct result of injuries sustained from prolonged standing.

How to choose your mat

Even once you decide that an anti-fatigue mat is the way to go, there are a number of factors to take into consideration. Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Will the mat be placed in a wet or dry environment? Do you need to consider slip resistance and drainage?
  • If in a wet area, what substances are used in the area the mat will be placed? Does it need to be suitable for just liquids or for oils and grease as well?
  • What type of floor will it be used on? Take into consideration the thickness of the mat; the colder and harder the floor, the thicker the mat should be.
  • How many hours do workers have to stand? Again, the more time spent standing, the thicker and more heavy-duty the mat should be.
  • Is it for permanent or temporary installation?
  • Do you need safety edging?
  • Will the mat be in a customer-facing environment, such as a shop floor? In these areas you may also want to consider the appearance of the mat.
  • Are there any other special requirements such as ESD properties, weld resistance, anti- bacterial properties for food areas, etc.?

If you need any more advice our customer service team is here to answer any questions you may have and will happily recommend the best matting for your requirements.

Why risk your employees’ health when the solution is so simple?


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