While many standing workers are well aware that different flooring types make them feel more or less achy, businesses need to recognise that the effects are real and can significantly impact worker health and productivity. One study clearly demonstrated the effects that flooring types have on a worker’s body.
The study was titled The Effects of Floor Types on Standing Tolerance in Industry and was conducted by M.S. Redfern and D.B. Chaffin at the Center for Ergonomics in the University of Michigan. The researchers looked at the effects that different flooring types had on workers who had to stand for long periods of time as part of their jobs.
Nine different flooring types were tested - three rubber mats of different thickness, hard mat with tri-laminate padding, hard mat without padding, concrete, a viscoelastic mat, a soft but uneven mat and some shoe inserts. The 14 workers were asked about their pain and fatigue levels after standing on the different surfaces for the day.
The results showed that there was a big difference in the amount of pain and fatigue the workers experienced according to the floor types. The floor’s ability to reduce worker pain and fatigue was dependant on how hard it was and its depth. The concrete and hard floors consistently had the most amount of pain and fatigue responses while the thickest rubber mat, tri-laminate mat and shoe inserts had the least.
The study explained that leg pain and discomfort was a common problem among workers but was rarely reported. Of those injuries that were reported, chronic lower extremity problems accounted for 15% of them. This suggests that while workers are suffering from poor flooring and standing for long periods of time, businesses are not always aware of the extent of the problem.
However, this study’s results clearly suggest that proper flooring, such as anti fatigue mats, greatly reduces worker pain and stress. It is something that nearly all businesses could consider in order to increase worker productivity and happiness levels.