Monday, March 21, 2016

How to Get More Work out of Your Work Space with Anti-Fatigue Mats

anti-fatigue mats
Whether you are working at your own kitchen counter or work bench, or on your feet all day at a Customer Service counter or assembly line, you could make your hobby or job much more enjoyable and productive with an anti-fatigue mat.  


The problem
Standing still for long periods on a hard surface, like a tile or concrete floor, is not an activity that our bodies are designed for. Our leg muscles tighten and constrict.  Our hearts have to work harder to pump blood around and through these constricted muscles. And this extra work by our heart actually makes our whole body tired. And, don’t forget about the foot, leg, and back pain that can also result from standing for hours on end.  


Unfortunately, that’s not all - standing for long periods can cause a flattening of the foot, leading to arch and heel pain, and stagnating or pooling blood can cause varicose veins.  Studies have indicated that people are more likely to have an accident when they are tired, fatigued or in pain - so anti fatigue mats can have a secondary safety effect as well.  


Workers who are in pain are also less productive. A study in the Journal of American Medicine estimated that an average of 3.5 hours a week are lost due to reduced worker performance - that adds up to almost 23 days a year! This does not include days that result in absenteeism, nor does this take into account medical expenses or Worker’s Compensation claims from muscular skeletal damage. Simply put, a tired worker or hobbyist is less productive, less happy and may have to see a doctor more often.


The solution
The solution lies in a simple anti fatigue mat. The softer surface of an anti-fatigue mat encourages subtle movement of the leg and foot muscles. As you shift around on the mat, this movement allows blood, and oxygen to flow more easily, and the heart does not have to pump as hard.  


In addition to an antifatigue mat, make sure you take breaks during the day. Walking to the bathroom, speaking to a coworker face to face rather than sending an email can give your body the break it needs to keep you happy, productive and injury free.  


Where to use anti-fatigue mats
Household locations that can benefit from anti-fatigue mats are home kitchens and work benches, craft areas and work shops and laundry rooms. Anywhere that you stand for long periods of time.  If you work at home, and use a stand up desk, an anti-fatigue mat is recommended.  


On the job, service desks, cashier and hostess stations, shipping and packing, wait stations, manufacturing, laboratories, assembly and picking stations, food service and parts counters are just some of the areas where employees would benefit from the use of anti-fatigue mats.  


Keep anti-fatigue properties and intended use in mind
Choosing an anti-fatigue mat is one area where the lowest cost option is often not the best.  Anti-fatigue mats are available at big box retailers, but it is worth doing some research with an online flooring specialist. Greatmats is one company that offers a range of choices for many budgets and purposes. Remember, cheaper mats tend to wear out more quickly, may offer only minimal anti-fatigue benefits, and may curl and bend to become a tripping hazard.  
Mats vary in size from a 2 foot by 3 foot to runners, to mats that curve around a salon chair, to perforated mats for wet areas like food prep areas and manufacturing.  


Mats can be made from a variety of materials like vinyl foam, rubber, and PVC and a combination of these materials.


As far as cushioning, softer is not always better. A mat should have a degree of rebound, where the surface returns to its original form after your weight is moved. A too-soft mat is like standing on a mattress - it takes more work to remain upright, which can also lead to fatigue.  


Look for beveled edges to prevent tripping and allow carts to move onto the mat. Some mats have brightly-colored borders to increase safety awareness. Anti-fatigue mats can include additional features like anti-slip surfaces. Bubbleflex, Gridstep and Honeycomb are a few of the more popular options.


Some mats even have anti-static electricity properties to prevent damage to people and equipment in manufacturing and industrial work. ESD Static Dissipative Mats and Apachestat are some examples of this type of mat. The closed-cell foam mat offers comfort and relief to aching legs as well as an anti-slip surface. Some mats can also withstand welding. Weld Master and Stand-N-Weld are popular brands of anti-fatigue mats used in areas used for welding. Hog Heaven Indoor Anti Fatigue mats are designed to withstand welding sparks and slag up to 1,800 degrees.


In industrial areas where fluids like oil and grease are present, a draining rubber mat is the safest option. Vinyl cannot stand up to oil and grease. Industrial machining areas, where lots of metal shavings fall to the floor, would benefit from perforated mats as they will make cleanup easier. The drainage holes allow liquid and waste to pass through.  Also, a sturdy rubber mat won’t get metal shavings imbedded in its surface as easily as a softer mat.  


Chemical-resistant mats, such as Dekplate, are another option. Hospitals and laboratories require anti microbial properties found in mats like K-Marble. Noise resistance is another optional feature, available from brands like Noyz Mats.  


When you have narrowed your choices down to a few mats, check the warranty.  Mats with a longer warranty usually last longer, because the manufacturer has designed them for long life.  Warranties can range from several years to lifetime!

Whichever mat you choose, know that you are making an investment in your comfort, productivity and overall health.  

Friday, March 11, 2016

How to Choose Ergonomic Flooring - What to Look For in Anti-Fatigue Flooring

Factories, retail and customer service counters, assembly lines, medical labs, and shipping and packing facilities are just some of the many businesses and locations that need ergonomic flooring to assist employees who stand for many hours each day. But when an internet search for “ergonomic flooring” yields thousands of results, it can be hard to narrow down the best solution for an individual business.

So, how do you know which form of ergonomic flooring to choose? To answer this question, let’s start by understanding the need for ergonomic floor mats.

How does workplace fatigue effect you and your business?
Generally, office and industrial spaces are constructed with affordable, durable concrete floors - great for the bottom line, but not for employees. Standing on a concrete surface all day can result in blood pooling in the legs and feet. The leg muscles don’t move enough to encourage circulation. This, in turn, leads to muscle fatigue, joint compression, pain and swelling in the lower limbs, varicose veins and even heart disease.

OSHA reports that muscle fatigue and musculoskeletal disorders account for a third of all workplace injuries. For a business owner, this means worker fatigue, which can result in less productivity and more errors, increased workers compensation claims, more sick leaves and higher medical bills. On the other hand, reducing fatigue can mean a worker who has better morale and productivity.


What should you look for in ergonomic flooring?
Employers can’t just slap down a soft mat and be done with it. Mats that are too soft also result in worker fatigue. Imagine standing on a cushy mattress or soft sand. It important to find a balance between soft and supportive - a mat that encourages subtle muscle movement, which in turn decreases blood pooling. 

Ideally, the surface will compress and bounce back. The mat should return to its original shape when a worker changes positions. Secondly, the mat needs to be durable and stand up to the work environment. A cheap mat that degrades underneath and compresses will not prevent worker fatigue very long. A mat that curls and bends could quickly become a tripping hazard.


Ergonomic industrial flooring
Mats in industrial areas or food service may need to be slip resistant, moisture and chemical resistant, or cut resistant. Perhaps trolleys and carts will need to move on and off the mats. Beveled edges that allow wheeled carts, and stable edges that won’t bend break or crack are also important. Degrading edges can result in trips and falls.

Warranties for quality mats and flooring range from 2 to 10 years, while the useful lifespan of the flooring itself can be much longer. While the upfront investment can be more, replacement costs over the life of a quality mat or flooring system are much lower.


Ergonomic Flooring Materials
PVC ergonomic flooring is lightweight,
portable and easy to clean.
Dense foam, plastic made of PVC, and dense rubber are the three materials most often used in quality ergonomic flooring. Sometimes a combination of the them exist in the same product. Each product has its plusses and minuses, depending on the application.


Synthetic foam can be a more affordable option than rubber, and are offered in a wider range of colors and shapes and resilience. 

Much lighter than rubber, PVC flooring can be easily installed and relocated. PVC is a great solution for dirty environments like factories or assembly or machining due to ease of cleaning and non-absorbency. PVC flooring can stand up to chemicals, oils and acids. It can also be cut resistant. PVC products can be made from virgin PVC, or recycled PVC. PVC tiles in black are often made of recycled PVC.

While PVC flooring can be a more affordable option than rubber flooring, it does not have the same life span of rubber.

Rubber is a natural material, and a renewable resource, made from the sap of rapidly growing rubber trees. Today’s rubber mats often contain a percentage of recycled materials. For customers seeking an environmentally-friendly product, or perhaps working towards Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, rubber is a great option. At the end of a rubber floor's lifespan, it can be recycled into new mats or other applications.

Rubber is heavy, dense and very durable. However, rubber cannot always be used in a situation with chemicals or oil as oil can break down the bonding agents used in recycled rubber flooring. Virgin rubber mats and vulcanized mats won’t have this problem.

Some of rubber’s other benefits include its slip resistance, resistance to spills and anti static properties. Factories, food service and other industries working closely with electrical equipment, servers and computers will want ergonomic mats that minimize static electricity. The durability of rubber makes it resistant to cuts. And rubber has a long life span, sometimes up to 30 years.


Hard rubber, which is stiff, can be perforated, which is good for particle generating activities like machining, where the particles will settle in the holes and not damage the mat. Perforated rubber is also used in wet environments like food service areas.


Rubber mats offer resistance to slips, spills,
and static electricity.
Rubber flooring and hygiene mats can be used in medical areas, operating theaters and clean rooms. Rubber is naturally anti-bacterial. These mats can be autoclaved and washed for a clean environment.


Maintaining rubber flooring is easy - just vacuum and wash with water or a neutral pH cleaner.


Rubber flooring is often composed of virgin rubber or recycled rubber mixed with urethane. Virgin rubber is soft and pliable, but more expensive. Recycled rubber is more affordable, tougher and more scratch resistant.


Rubber Material Concerns
One concern with rubber flooring is the odor. The odor is the result of sulphur. Some companies offer products with and without sulphur. For a large, well-ventilated warehouse space, odor will be less of a factor, and cost may dictate a product with more smell. But in a smaller space, it might make sense to spend a little more for a low odor product.


Another thing to be aware of are additives and fillers in rubber products, ranging from sand and clay to used motor oil. Generally these additives are an issue in products produced overseas, and will not be present in the wide range of American-made rubber products.


Consult the experts
One way to find the perfect ergonomic flooring for your application is to work with a company that offers a broad product line and excellent customer service. A leader in the specialty flooring business, Greatmats.com offers a wide array of rubber, foam and PVC products as well as friendly and knowledgable customer service. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Greatmats giving away up to $1000 to School Cheerleading and Athletic Departments

Wisconsin-based specialty flooring and cheerleading mat supplier Greatmats is hosting a national contest for schools with cheerleading programs. This contest offers U.S. schools a chance to win up to $1,000 in mats or a cash option to be split between the cheerleading programs and general athletic departments.
Those interested in entering the contest simply need to tell Greatmats how its school would benefit from the winnings and send a combination of any two photos or videos from its approved list found with the complete contest details its contest webpage.

Greatmats is accepting submissions from March 1 until March 15, 2016 and the winner will be named on April 11, 2016. For more details on the contest visit http://www.greatmats.com/cheerleading-mats/greatmats-cheerleading-1000-dollar-giveaway.php.