Unhappy work environments can lead to lower productivity, muscle strains, and joint pain. Cumulative Standing Trauma (CST), which can be caused by prolonged standing, reduced productivity, higher absenteeism rates, and increased worker compensation, can lead to a loss of billions annually.
Employers can be more productive and more comfortable by using ergonomic solutions such as industrial-grade antifatigue mats.
How Anti Fatigue Matting Works
Long-term standing jobs can cause fatigue and soreness as the blood flow to the lower extremities becomes restricted. Anti Fatigue Floor Mats support muscles in the lower legs, back, and promote subtle movement of the leg and calf muscles. This results in an increase in blood flow and oxygen supply.
Imagine how it feels to stand on a smooth surface. Your body will compensate by allowing the surface to give way when you apply pressure. Small muscle movements can stimulate blood flow and oxygen.
The measurement of compression deflection can be used to measure the displacement of an antifatigue mat under high pressure. The mat is loaded with a load and the percentage of deflection is calculated. One load is typically applied at 20 PSI (pounds per square in), which equals 150-pounds. A second load is applied at 40 PSI, which corresponds to a 600-pound individual. Research shows that both loads require a minimum deflection of 20% to 60%.
Understanding Material & Performance
The mat’s durability and performance are directly affected by the material. Most anti-fatigue mats are made from one of three materials: vinyl, rubber, or polyurethane.
PVC is the most affordable member of the group. It is less durable than polyurethane or rubber and is more vulnerable to the elements, including temperature. PVC mats can be prone to cracking, ripping, and curling around the edges, which can lead to dangerous situations. Vinyl is much less slip-resistant than rubber. Many vinyl mats are not slip-resistant when wet. We recommend that you choose a PVC antifatigue mat whose surface is not glued to the foam base. This will help extend the life of your mat by reducing the possibility of cracking, curling, and delamination.
Rubber is available in two main types: styrene-butadiene SBR and nitrile. In demanding industrial environments, nitrile rubber has many advantages over polyurethane and PVC. Nitrile rubber is extremely slip-resistant and does not react to grease or oil. It resists many chemicals and slag. This makes it safe to use in welding and grinding. Although nitrile rubber is naturally resistant against microbes such as bacteria, it can be used in environments that are sensitive to bacteria. We recommend that you use a nitrile product with anti-microbial treatment to protect from degradation and bacteria.
Mats made from a mixture of PVC and Nitrile rubber have a combination of advantages. Although they won’t be as resistant to oil and grease as pure nitrile mats, PVC/nitrile-blended ones will. Grease and oil can degrade blended products over time so they should not be used in environments containing grease, oil, or other chemicals. They are also not suitable for environments containing slag.
Polyurethane tends to be the most expensive of the three materials. While it provides excellent comfort and durability for commercial environments, it lacks the necessary qualities to succeed in harsh industrial environments. Polyurethane mats are suitable for all environments, from dry to oily to slightly moist.
Although polyurethane can be heated, it is only heat-safe to 400 degrees. Slag can cause serious damage.
Environment & Usage Considerations
You must evaluate the performance and quality of the mat as well as the environment to determine the best mat for your needs. There are many anti-fatigue floor mats available at all price points. However, as you might expect price is linked to performance and durability. It is significant to consider your environment and specific needs, as well as how the mat will perform in those environments. You need a mat that is durable and can meet your workplace’s requirements.
- Do you consider your environment dry, wet, or damp?
- Are you in an environment that is sensitive to bacteria?
- Your matting will be exposed to oil and grease, as well as chemicals.
- Workers will be using plasma cutters or grinders to create slag.
- Are you working with sensitive equipment or components?
- Do you plan to sweep/wipe or hose down your mat? Or do you need to sterilize it in an automatic crave or commercially wash it?
Based on the above questions, the chart below will help you to determine which industrial mats are best for your needs.
It is important to understand the expected life span of your anti fatigue mats. The amount of use can have a significant impact on the mat’s service life. Let’s say that two identical manufacturing plants purchase the same Anti-fatigue Mats. The facilities are identical in all respects, except that Plant A operates three shifts seven days per week and Plant B two shifts five days per week. The plant B mats will be used approximately half the amount of mats in Plant A and will therefore have a longer service life, provided that no unexpected damage is done.
Mats that are worn or damaged should be taken out of service immediately and replaced. Mats that are left in service for longer than their useful life expectancy will not provide the anti-fatigue benefits intended.
Wearwell is a U.S. Manufacturer of ergonomic flooring products that help standing teams improve performance and fight fatigue.