Avoid a Pain in the Neck... and Back... and Feet...Back to The PIG® Library
An employee who stands for long periods of time often develops aches and pains in the back, neck, legs or feet. Changes in job procedures may alleviate these aches and pains – or not. What can you do if employees continue having problems?
Anti-fatigue mats may be a simple yet effective solution. These soft, slip-resistant, durable polymer mats provide a cushion for workers to stand on. Anti-fatigue mats can also help you meet the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for clean and dry floors, and provide many ergonomic benefits for workers. But how exactly does it help to stand on a softer surface?
Cement vs. anti-fatigue mat
Softer surfaces are better for standing just as they are for sleeping. Soft surfaces decrease the shock, stress and pressure on feet and joints. Hard surfaces like cement don't absorb shock.
Extended standing on a hard surface decreases blood flow to the legs and fatigues leg muscles that support the body. The softness of anti-fatigue mats requires workers to shift positions more frequently and use leg muscles more often. This increases blood flow to the legs and helps delay fatigue.
In pain all day
Pain and discomfort from extending standing on a hard surface can exhaust a worker and cause irritability. Obviously, it's not ideal for a tired, cranky worker to operate machinery or handle hazardous chemicals. Anti-fatigue mats may help workers stay energetic and alert.
Creating more problems
A worker in pain from standing may try various positions to gain relief. A worker with back pain may work slightly bent over; a worker with leg pain may stand only on the leg that isn't sore. These measures may just make things worse. Anti-fatigue mat may be able to help.
Benefits and beyond
Anti-fatigue mats may not only alleviate aches and pains but also provide slip resistance. According to OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.22(a), all places of employment, passageways, storerooms, and service rooms must be kept clean, orderly, and in a sanitary condition; and the floor of every workroom must be, "maintained in a clean and, so far as possible, dry condition." The regulation further states that, "where wet processes are used, drainage must be maintained, and false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places should be provided where practicable."
It's clearly important to prevent slips, trips, and falls that can cause sprains, strains, and even fatalities – both to protect workers and to minimize time lost and worker compensation costs.