A GUIDE TO HELP YOU FIND THE BEST ANTI-FATIGUE MAT FOR YOU
Health and wellness programs, as well as ground-up initiatives for better overall health in the workplace are on an explosive rise, and for good reason! Employees with a better quality of life at home and at work have shown to be exponentially better in the workplace, and more beneficial to the company; higher productivity rates, less sick days taken, fewer accidents, better overall physical and mental health, and the list goes on.
Along with the boom comes a higher standard of manufacturing needs as well, as health and wellness doesn’t only extend to bleach white oxford collars and cubicles. The manufacturing industry has been at the forefront of anti-fatigue mats for quite some time, but the need for mats has certainly been accelerated by the aforementioned programs now in place. With one small peak into the vast options, though, it’s understandable how one may get overwhelmed and buy a mat that either doesn’t help at all, or creates even more issues than it solves.
To help you better navigate the extensive options of mats, we at AcroMat created a list of 7 steps to help you better evaluate and select mats:
1. Evaluate your current space; what are your findings?
Take a good long look at the space you want to update, improve, or change. Are there stacked mats, are there any mats, how often is the space used, is it a low lit area, any spots with more traffic than others, spill potential, tracking of fluids, etc.? By taking the time to evaluate the space in question, managers and teams can have a more accurate and precise idea as to just what exactly the mat will be subjected to over the days, weeks, months, and years of use. Evaluating spaces can also help to determine a price requirement depending on the budget.
Anti-fatigue mat technology has come very far in a short amount of time. In the new world of automation and chemical advancement, employees and managers are able to find a mat that is both functional and specific to their needs. To boot, the pricing and ability structure has greatly increased to help fit any budget necessary. Buying the most expensive mat doesn’t mean you got the best mat for the job, and conversely, buying the cheapest doesn’t mean you have the best deal. You have to assess which mat brings you the best value.
2. What is it that I want to achieve with an anti-fatigue mat?
This seems like a fairly obvious question, but the evaluation step can help reveal a bit more about the space, and create a goal that extends further than simply, “Stop my feet from hurting.” Did your goal change after your initial evaluation? Armed with a better insight into your situation, it’s time to use the technology of anti-fatigue mats to your benefit, and achieve an environment that negates as much risk as possible.
3. What environment will the mat be going into?
In the manufacturing world, there are quite a few variables that have to be considered before selecting a mat, but above all else, be sure that if your space(s) needs a job-specific mat, that you select that specific type of mat. Anti-fatigue mats have various properties and makeups that allow them to better serve your needs: antimicrobial for food manufacturing, ESD and/or anti-static for electronics, smooth surfaces for dust free and/or clean-rooms, durable covers for welding, and the list goes on.
Check to make sure that your supplier has mats that are certified for what your industry calls for; certifications, electrical resistance ratings, dissipation rates, etc. To toot our own horn a little: AcroMat has worked with numerous clients across various industries, and has considerable experience when it comes to knowing what a client and their industry requires. More than likely your supplier has exactly what you’re looking for, but just be sure to ask and make it known so that they can best accommodate your needs.
4. How much use will this mat need to endure?
Most mats can take a beating, and come with a quality warranty, but it doesn’t make sense to select a low quality mat for an area that has high foot traffic running over it on a daily basis. At that point, it’s money wasted, and budgets burned.
Utilize the notes from above to find out how much traffic the space goes through, and allow that to help guide you as to which mat provides the best value for the space in question.
5. How much support do you need while standing?
When in comes to anti-fatigue mats, more cushion isn’t always better for the end user. There are various compression yields to assist in producing the best day-to-day experience over the various surfaces, as well as the best possible wellness to an employee and their body. The secret is the type of material and not the thickness, which matters. Anti-fatigue mats are made using a variety of materials. PVC foam, while feeling a lot softer, compresses quicker and soon loses it`s “anti-fatigue spring”. Plastic tiles are a harder material, but rely on spacers under the tiles to provide the flexibility needed. The optimum material we have found is a 5/8” closed cell nitrile rubber.
Too much compression creates too much movement in the feet and joints, and becomes just as, if not more, tiresome on an employee’s legs. Conversely, a mat without enough compression yield will provide little movement for blood to flow to the joints, and fatigue will set in.
6. What is your budget?
As stated earlier, it’s not advised to simply go out and buy the most expensive mat on the market. There is no “biting the bullet” in this particular industry anymore. Anti-fatigue mats are made with considerable ease, and come in a multitude of selections, finishes, coverings, etc. AcroMat suggests clients go through the evaluation process, set a “hard budget,” and then seek the advice and experience of a mat supplier to help find a solution for their needs. By setting a hard budget for mats, a baseline can be set so measure against the mats, and then modified the next time anti-fatigue mats are needed throughout the area. Don’t go too far down the anti-fatigue mat rabbit hole.
There are tons of bells and whistles that mats can come with, but is it the best mat for the application? Again, refer back to your hard budget and utilize that to start with. If consulted properly, expect far fewer changes (if any), the next time spaces are evaluated, and with a much more focused budgeting setup for mats that need to be updated.
7. What is the floor surface like?
This seems minor, but it’s actually a huge point over time. If the mat is to be on a hard, smooth surface, you may need grip applications to the bottom of the mat to keep it in place. Having to constantly re-adjust the mat will drive anyone into blind insanity. “Wandering” mats are a constant trip hazard. The smaller the mat, the less friction it has, and so it will move easier. There are various tapes and coating solutions that will help with this issue. If the mat needs to be fixed permanently in place, a good quality carpet tape works just fine. If you need to tape the bevels down to the floor use a hi-viz reflective tape for extra safety. For anti-fatigue mats on gratings or steel deck floors, consult your mat provider for the best solutions. Carpeted office areas for sit-stand desk mats usually provide a good gripping surface for the mat.
Seriously evaluate any risks involved where the mats are to be used. Multiple small mats increase the danger of trips and falls. Would a custom fit, one piece seamless mat be better? Regularly check for damage to mats – cuts, tears, broken bevels curling edges, etc. Old mats stacked on top of each other is another common problem.
Remember, prevention is better than the cure.