Many workers are required to spend hours on their feet during their work shifts. Did you know that excessive standing is as detrimental to your health as prolonged sitting? The usual complaints are lower back and knee pain, shoulder and neck stiffness, sore feet as a result of too much standing at work. To reduce the negative effects, it is recommended to change working positions frequently, avoid extreme stretching, allow regular rest periods, and use anti-fatigue standing mats.
By law, employers must provide a healthy and safe environment for everyone in the workplace. This is why in working environments where employees stand for a long time, employers should provide anti-fatigue mats that will significantly reduce the chances of getting a workplace muscular skeletal disorder (WMSD). Studies have shown that the use of specially designed anti-stress and anti-fatigue mats eliminate discomfort. With so many mats available to choose from, how do you know which one is the best for you?
Here are 3 important criteria to consider when selecting a mat:
- Area of application
In damp environments, some types of mats could absorb moisture and potentially breed bacteria or mold. An open-surface mat that provides good drainage or a sealed mat with a textured surface will work in this case. This is particularly problematic in workplaces where various chemicals are being handled. It is important to verify that the materials from which the mat is made and the chemicals being handled in the area will not start a chemical reaction and will not cause mat deterioration.
If the workers are walking more often than standing, a firmer mat is needed to avoid sinking in with each step. For those who are kneeling a lot while performing their work assignments, an extra-cushioned kneeling mat is recommended.
- Amount of surface coverage
Work mats come standard in rectangular and square shapes and are available in various sizes. To avoid tripping hazards, sometimes customized mat sizing might be a better solution for a large area, or when mat installation is needed under heavy equipment.
- Frequency of use
Another thing to keep in mind is that mats that will be heavily used have to be of the highest quality possible to avoid the need to replace them frequently. Anti-fatigue mats constructed from various durable materials including PVC, nitrile, polypropylene, and natural rubber are available for you to choose from. A cost-effective mat solution can be a good choice for the situations when only limited use is expected.
Here are a couple of amazing, high-quality mats you are guaranteed to be satisfied with:
Working Concepts ErgoKneel mats are designed for all-day standing or kneeling. They are extra comfortable, durable and are proven to improve your overall health. These ergonomic mats are made of heavy, resilient, closed-cell foam rubber, and are non-conductive, resistant to petroleum, and will not absorb liquids. They can also self-extinguish if accidentally exposed to fire, and are great for standing or kneeling on cold or hard surfaces, like steel, concrete, or gravel.
The ErgoKneel 5010 Extreme Standing Mat is a workstation mat with tapered edges that offers great relief from pain associated with standing all day while operating heavy machinery at work, or doing DIY projects at home.
The ErgoKneel Kneeling Mat 5050 with a built-in handle is perfect for utility workers (telecommunications, plumbers), petrochemical workers, and electricians, or for use at home (gardening, DIY). The advantage of this mat is that it is easy to clean because it is made with closed-cell rubber not plastic like some kneeling mats so you can use soap, power wash, or even some harsh solvents.
Top occupations for WMSDs that could benefit from high-quality standing mats are nurses, aides, attendants, truck drivers, assemblers, janitors, cleaners, stock handlers, baggers, cashiers, construction workers, carpenters. Some of the benefits of using anti-fatigue matting include an increased blood flow, stress-relief on legs, the back, and joints, and the prevention of slips and falls.
For more information, check the selection of work standing mats at PK Safety and learn more from these resources:
CCOHS.ca: Anti-Fatigue Mats
OSHA.gov: Ergonomics: The Study of Work