Concrete or hard flooring is often a necessity in industrial environments where non-porous flooring is essential, however can cause major, and possible irreversible health risks to anyone standing on them for any length of time.
This article references two studies that evaluate the make up of anti fatigue mats, the need for them in the workplace and the health complications if they are ignored. (For those of you that are rushed for time, you can read our 'Anti Fatigue Mats - A Brief Overview' article, which gives you a rounded summary of this uniqe type of matting...)
A study conducted by professors George Havenith and Lucy Dorman from Loughborough University revealed that after only 90 minutes of standing on a concrete floor, the participants complained of serious discomfort to the feet, legs and back, and stiffness to the neck and shoulders. Furthermore, the participants described their inability to concentrate after 50 minutes of standing. Results also showed that when standing, veins become subjected to increased pressure, leading to restricted blood circulation and swelling of the joints. This can cause irreversible health issues such as varicose veins, and a multitude of other serious health related complexities.
These ergonomic mats are designed to counteract these issues, and help to provide a multitude of benefits to the workplace.
Anti fatigue mats – The Benefits
- Reduce pressure on the spine and strain on the back muscles, resulting in less lower back pain.
- Stimulates blood circulation and promotes good posture.
- Encourages frequent minor changes in standing position, which prevents stiffness in joints.
- Eases tension in shoulders and neck, which cause headaches.
- Reduces energy used by supporting muscles, relieving tension.
- Relieves foot pressure caused by flattening of the feet.
- Acts as an insulator against cold floors.
- Reduces accidents from lack of concentration, and increases productivity.
Anti fatigue mats are built for a variety of applications and environments, and most mats these days are multi-functional. Many are even designed to be oil and grease resistant with added slip-resistant properties, which is great for work areas where people are standing for prolonged periods of time in areas that may come into contact with liquids, oils or grease.
Anti-Fatigue mats come in all shapes and sizes from 22 meter rolls, to a small mat designed to be placed by the individual users workstation.
Protecting your workforces’ welfare is a key concern in any workplace for a number of reasons. The adaptability and injury protection that these safety mats offer make them an essential part of any industrial work environment.
Remember, prevention is better than cure!
The Scientific Study
In December 2010, Mr Redha Taiar (Director of the Biomedical Laboratory of Reims University conducted a scientific study to quantify the impact of standing for prolonged periods on hard floors has on the human body, and to propose the use of anti fatigue mats as an effective solution to this issue.
The overall ambition of the research was aimed at improving workplace ergonomics and increasing the comfort of users, and consists in validating the need for their use.
The tests within this study involved an evaluation of the upright standing position of the body and how the body adjusts to maintain balance, along with analysing the pressure points of the feet when standing.
Foot Pressure Test And Analysis
In order to analyse the pressure the body was under in these positions, a ‘Zebris’ foot pressure platform was used. Observations were made through a colour gradient representing the distribution of pressure (Blue is minimum and red is intense pressure).
The image above represents the pressure to feet when in a static position, whilst the image below highlights the distribution of pressure when the user was standing at a workstation simulating a daily routine.
The results revealed that workers constantly make small movements and adjustments to their posture when standing for long periods. They also revealed that without any matting or cushioning there is a dysfunction in the balance of the user which can cause pathologies and health concerns. This is because the weight of the body often tends to rest on one foot, which can cause a multitude of health and muscular concerns. The use of these mats enables the body to distribute its weight evenly between the right and left leg, thus promoting good posture and a healthy blood flow.
A survey was conducted for the duration of one month, which analysed 20 factory line workers (10 men and 10 women). The aim was to obtain a perception of the pain or discomfort the workers experienced on a daily basis from standing on cold hard floors. The borg scale was used to quantify the intensity of the pain.
Participants reported pains in all the areas mentioned above, along with a loss of concentration.
Anti Fatigue mats were then supplied to these participants to use for one month. One participant named Adeline claimed, ‘When I leave work, I no longer have pains in my legs’, whilst Andre states, ‘They are very good, less fatigue in the legs and less overall muscular troubles’.
Anti fatigue mats – How They Work For Us
The observations revealed the pressure zones on the sole of the foot when in contact with the floor. These represent the areas of the foot we use to keep or balance when standing. Our body has an automatic system it uses when standing upright. This system is installed in our neuromuscular program, and systematically uses the same muscles do to the work, without us being conscious of this. The muscular fibres involved in this process are commonly known as ‘cinderella fibres’, because even when they are tired of working, they still continue to do their job, and this is the beginning of the muscular-skeletal troubles that occur so frequently in the workplace.
By using anti fatigue mats, our bodies can no longer remain in auto pilot, as they force the body to constantly move to keep balance, thus distributing pressure evenly throughout the lower limbs.
The explanation of bio mechanics and the pressure on feet whilst standing, and the evident benefits anti fatigue mats provide has proven beneficial in making improvements in the workplace to user comfort and performance.
Convinced that these ergonomic mats are an essential ingredient to a healthy workforce? View our leading range of Anti Fatigue Mats here >>
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