The short answer is that you might need both. Many workers suffer from pain and health problems caused by standing on hard floors. Workplace slips and falls cause a lot of injuries in New Zealand every year. 2019 saw 6 NZ worker fatalities from falls on the same level. Worker health issues not only cause absenteeism, but time can be wasted on the job as efficiency tumbles when workers are in pain. And pain can distract to the point of more workplace accidents. Who benefits from anti-fatigue matting? Assembly-line workers, machine operators, hairdressers, doctors, nurses and lab workers, cashiers and cooks, airport baggage screeners and security agents.
Because anti-slip matting is needed in wet or greasy environments, we supply matting that is water, oil and chemical resistant. Kitchens, meat-packing plants, dairies and other food-related industries are prime candidates for anti-slip matting. Slippery conditions turn up somewhere in most industries, and the right kind of safety or non-slip matting is available for every situation. In this post we’ll examine the hazards of prolonged standing, as well as the risks of slips and falls. What are the 2 kinds of matting, and how can they help your particular need?
What are the hazards of standing too long?
A study titled ‘Evidence of Health Risks Associated with Prolonged Standing at Work and Intervention Effectiveness’ published by the United States National Library of Medicine gives us some pointers.
1. Low back pain (LBP) and Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD)
5,604 Danish workers from industrial and service companies participated in a 24 month study of LBP and MSD. The authors found that participants with prolonged standing of more than 30 minutes per hour had an increased Odds Ratio (OR) for LPB of 2.1. What does this mean? They were roughly twice as likely to experience LBP in comparison to somebody who primarily sat while working.
2. Cardiovascular problems
A number of studies have investigated the effects of prolonged standing on various cardiovascular health outcomes.
Some of the results:
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)
A study of 387 Dutch males identified these 3 risk factors for CVI
- Body weight
- The number of years spent in a standing profession
An increased risk ratio of developing varicose veins in both men and women when working mostly in a standing position was demonstrated by a study of 5940 Danish workers.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)
Occurrence of CVD symptoms were significantly higher for workers who work in a standing position compared with those who primarily work while sitting.
Edema – swollen legs
Again, a condition proven to be worsened by standing.
Blood pressure and water retention
Prolonged standing significantly increased total body mass and total body water + increase in vein size + significant increase in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in a group of US volunteers.
This 3rd category may appear to be insignificant compared to the life-threatening possibilities of the 2nd category. An Italian study of 62 surgery room workers and 65 outpatient workers showed venous pressure to be significantly higher for standing workers compared to the controls (workers who stand less). These 3 categories are all worsened by a hard floor such as cement.
Standing employment is a fact of life. How do we combat its effects?
We asked Dr Dieter Breithecker, a German health and kinetics scientist, about the occupational hazards of prolonged standing.
Does anti-fatigue matting help workers to subconsciously move, or would it not be enough movement to be beneficial?
Dr Breithecker’s response:
Basically a good standing mat is a help to be more active with the feet. That has a benefit for blood flow and oxygen supply. Otherwise standing still will cause early fatigue.
But even standing supports are not the final solution. We are made for walking and for diverse position changes. Use the floor, use different sitting options – even slouching for a temporary moment is allowed – use a perch and organise an environment where moving around is stimulated. The complex human physiology needs complex stimulation.
3 ways to deal with Cumulative Standing Disorder
1. Get a good anti-fatigue mat
The subtle movements of well-designed anti-fatigue matting encourage more foot movement – good for the intricate musculoskeletal structure of the foot. Flat feet are a typical result of overlong standing. These same movements encourage blood flow and oxygen supply – to the leg muscles, yes, but also to the heart and brain. Footwear that provides support and cushioning can help too.
2. Keep moving!
It’s up to you, the worker, to take responsibility to do all you can to keep your body in top shape while doing a good job. Shift your weight from one foot to the other. Bend your knees slightly from time to time. Try to develop strong core muscles, and fight the natural inclination to let your lower back relax into an arched position. Employers can do a lot to improve worker health. Aim to provide ‘movement breaks’ that can get the blood flowing again and allow fatigued muscles to recover.
3. Use a ‘perch’
A stool or chair, that can be sat on even briefly, will allow the different pressure points to recover. Appropriately-placed footrests can help too.
Anti-slip and safety matting
Choose carefully when buying anti-slip matting. Some non-slip matting can increase foot fatigue by ‘grabbing’ the soles of shoes, which makes the foot slide forward in the shoe.
All of our Anti-slip matting has anti-fatigue properties.
Which industries need anti-slip matting?
Slippery, unsafe conditions occur when there’s too little friction between footwear and the walking surface. Contaminants – water, dust, oil, solvents or food spills can make floors slippery and dangerous. Meat-packing plants, dairies and other food-processing organisations, chemical companies. Really anywhere that liquids are handled or manufactured.
One more safety factor – protection against electric shocks.
Your industrial matting needs may seem complex, but they don’t have to be.
We love to help, so email us with your questions. If talking live makes more sense to you, give us a call, freephone – 0800 339 8377