A standing solution - Anti-fatigue matting

Employees are the backbone of industry. Whether they are operating machinery and equipment, assembling goods on a production line or packing goods ready for customers, workers’ contribution is crucial.

As a result, their health and well-being is of utmost importance, not just in maintaining productive and efficient operations, but also in the longevity of their service. As Mark Chandler discusses, it’s the responsibility of employers to ensure working environments are suitable for employees and implement sufficient practices to allow tasks to be carried out safely with minimal risk posed to workers.

In the majority of manufacturing facilities, it is commonplace for workers to be standing for prolonged periods. While this may be accepted as a basic characteristic of the role, these employees are, as a result, at risk of developing a variety of health issues including sore feet, swelling of the legs, muscle fatigue and lower back pain. musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as these – which are often a result of static loading which can affect muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and soft tissue – affect the movement of the human body and can severely inhibit employees’ ability to carry out their work effectively.

As well as causing avoidable suffering for workers – which can severely impact workers’ personal lives – these conditions can end up being very costly for employers. Aside from compensation claims which are often made as a result of the thousands of work-related musculoskeletal disorders reported each year in the UK, it is estimated that 11.6 million workdays are lost each year, directly impacting on productivity and output.

Beneath the sole

While straightforward measures such as the provision of more appropriate footwear have long been implemented to reduce the fatigue associated with standing for an entire shift, more can still be done to make workers comfortable. One solution – anti-fatigue matting – can improve the working environment for employees and minimise the negative effects of musculoskeletal disorders on workplace productivity.

By encouraging feet to subtly adapt to the cushioned surface, anti-fatigue mats lead to regular muscle movement for workers – even for those who remain in static positions for sustained periods of time. Our circulatory system is obviously crucial to keeping blood moving throughout the body, but by standing on hard floor surfaces for the duration of work shifts, people are at a greater risk of developing numerous health issues associated with circulatory problems. One condition which workers in such conditions are particularly prone to is varicose veins. This is because standing or remaining stationary for extended periods forces the heart to work harder and subsequently puts more pressure on the walls of veins. Similarly, constant muscle tension can lead to swelling and increase the pressure on nearby nerves. But with a few changes to workers’ immediate environments which help them to keep their muscles moving throughout the day, the occurrence of these conditions can be minimised.

That’s where anti-fatigue matting comes in. By helping to replicate the action which naturally occurs when we walk, anti-fatigue mats can support workers in avoiding the damage which may otherwise be caused to their muscles. While these slight movements may seem insignificant, they make a big difference over the course of a work shift by encouraging the foot and calf muscles to expand and contract, promoting healthier blood circulation.

Choosing the right matting

While installing anti-fatigue matting can help to reduce the risk of injury among the workforce and aid productivity by improving comfort, it is crucial to choose the correct matting for each environment. This is because, while the level of protection against fatigue may remain consistent across various matting options, other factors can also be accommodated for. For instance, if conditions in a particular plant are wet or oily, matting may be able to provide greater levels of protection besides those associated with fatigue.

By incorporating textured surface designs, matting can help to reduce the risk of slipping while simultaneously reducing the fatigue which stems from standing for long periods of time. Or in facilities where workers are needed to turn regularly to fulfil their tasks, it is critical to consider the types of material being used and opt for a long-lasting durable solution. Mats which are finished with a tough exterior surface – such as PVC or polyurethane – tend to be more resilient and can handle the pressures of more demanding environments while still providing suitable protection for employees.

Working with an experienced distributor such as Buck & Hickman and taking into consideration the nature of employees’ roles, employers can ensure that they are providing suitable working environments which minimise the health risks posed to their workforce.

To find out more about anti-fatigue matting and other products contact your local branch.

By Mark Chandler, Product Manager at Brammer and Buck & Hickman

Anti-fatigue matting in the workplace