OSH Answers Fact Sheets
Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >
What are anti-fatigue mats?
The mats are designed to reduce fatigue that is caused by standing for long periods on hard surface (e.g.,. cement floors). Fatigue-reducing mats can be made of various materials including rubber, carpeting materials, vinyl, and wood.
Why use anti-fatigue mats?
Anti-fatigue mats are often used to decrease foot weariness for workers who stand in one position for long periods. However, providing a mat may not solve the entire problem. Discomfort, tiredness, and sore feet after long hours of standing are the combined effect of several factors, namely the design of the work, the workers' footwear, and the flooring material. According to scientific data, standing for long periods of time is particularly stressful and fatiguing. Regardless of the quality of shoes and quality of the floor covering, standing itself can cause tiredness after an entire working day.
What should be considered first when a person stands all day at work?
When considering the use of anti-fatigue mats, there are other factors that should be considered at the same time, such as allowing changes in working/standing position, footwear, and flooring.
- Changes in working/standing position: Work should be organized so that the worker has some choice about his/her working position and an opportunity to change position frequently. A workplace that includes an optional seat (chair, sit/stand stool) and some kind of footrest increases the variety of body positions and encourages frequent changes between them.
- Footwear: Footwear is a factor which, if properly chosen, may further reduce the harmful effects of prolonged standing. There is no doubt that the choice of footwear is an important consideration for people who work on their feet. Shoes should ensure adequate arch and heel support and cushioning while providing comfort to the wearer.
- Flooring: The type of flooring used in the workplace has an equally important influence on comfort, especially on tender feet. Hard, unyielding floors, like concrete, are the least comfortable surface to work on. Walking on a hard floor is similar to the impact of a hammer pounding the heel at every step. Wood, cork, carpeting, or rubber - anything that provides some elasticity - is gentler on workers' feet. More than that, softer floor coverings reduce fatigue and improve safety by reducing slips and falls on slippery floors.
When should anti-fatigue mats be used?
There are two options to alleviate foot discomfort where resilient floors are not practical. One is footwear with thick insulating soles and shock-absorbing insoles.
Anti-fatigue matting is the other option. Anti-fatigue mats absorb the shock due to walking and this cushioning effect reduces foot fatigue. However, the use of matting requires caution because mats can lead to tripping and falling accidents when installed improperly.
Another type of floor covering, namely, anti-slip matting, is useful in increasing foot comfort and safety. However, workers may find that their feet burn and feel sore, because the non-slip properties of anti-slip matting cause their shoes to grab suddenly on the flooring, making their feet slide forward inside the shoes. Friction inside the shoes produces heat which creates soreness. Non-slip resilient insoles can reduce this discomfort.
In summary, the use of anti-fatigue mats or placing carpeting on the floor does not eliminate sore feet by itself, but, when combined with proper work design and quality footwear, it should improve working conditions.
Document confirmed current on September 26, 2006
Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.