Anti-Fatigue Mats and Shoe Insoles are both used in workplaces to help prevent the negative health effects of standing occupations. In this article, we take a look at the problem, and explore what each has to offer in terms of providing comfort and preventing fatigue.
Most people within industry are aware that prolonged standing at work is a cause of fatigue and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). And public health bodies and medical experts agree, there are consequences for the workforce when no action is taken.
But it is not only the health of workers on the shop floor, the ramifications for businesses and the economy mount up to 6.6 Million working days lost every year, with more than 45% of the workforce in Europe complain about standing in tiring positions at work.
We know the problem, but are insoles or anti-fatigue mats a more effective solution?
It’s a fact, that both products are used widely to lessen the negative effects of prolonged standing at work. But there is an elementary deviation in the way anti-fatigue mats work compared shoe insoles. So, what are the differences?
Ergonomic workplace matting
Most ergonomic matting has been engineered to fulfil more than one purpose. The material and the surface structure of anti-fatigue mats have been designed to encourage micro movements in the individual standing on the mat. These micro-movements activate the calf venous pump and improve circulation. Without this stimulation blood can pool in the lower extremities, which causes fatigue, cardiovascular diseases, varicose veins, back pain and more.
Further to this, industrial work mats provide cushioning against the impact from walking on hard floor on feet, joints, knees, hips and back. They also offer good insulation against the cold hard surfaces found extensively in industry.
Insoles can provide cushioning to absorb the energy from walking on hard surfaces. They can also provide good insulation against cold floors.
But as insoles fit directly to the operator’s feet, inside the shoes, the limited surface area is not activating the calf venous pump and therefore lacking the important aspect to fatigue prevention.
Insoles can still offer support for workers who walk a lot on hard cold floors, but should not be considered a suitable alternative to properly specified anti-fatigue matting.
Shoe Insoles vs Anti-Fatigue Mats: Cost Comparison
Even though cost shouldn’t be a factor when it comes to the health of workers, often it is. It is also a widespread opinion, that footwear insoles are cheaper than anti-fatigue matting.
Is this really the case?
At first glance this may seem obvious, because insoles themselves represent a relatively low expense, but let’s do the numbers.
10 people x 3 shifts = 30 pairs of insoles 30 pairs x 3 replacements (per year) x 2 years = 180 pairs of insoles With an average RRP of £20 for a pair of insoles this adds up to £3,600. And now the cost for ergonomic workplace matting: 20 mats 0.9m x 1.5m, with a useable lifetime of 2 years (at least), priced at £125 gives a total of £2,500.
10 people x 3 shifts = 30 pairs of insoles
30 pairs x 3 replacements (per year) x 2 years = 180 pairs of insoles
With an average RRP of £20 for a pair of insoles this adds up to £3,600.
And now the cost for ergonomic workplace matting:
20 mats 0.9m x 1.5m, with a useable lifetime of 2 years (at least), priced at £125 gives a total of £2,500.
It’s clear to see from this quick cost comparison, that insoles are not the obvious choice some seem to think. Another point to consider, is that shoe insoles are, once worn, not transferrable, while matting provides protection for everyone, regardless of workforce turnover.
Shoe Insoles vs. Anti-Fatigue Mats: Conclusion
While shoe insoles offer good insolation against cold industrial floors and some comfort attributable to the cushioning, when it comes to prevention of fatigue, their effect is below what anti-fatigue mats are able to offer.
Insoles are a good option for workers that move around a lot, or who cover long distances on hard, cold concrete floors.
Anti-fatigue mats are the ideal solution for workplaces with long periods of standing. Besides the insulation and more comfortable standing position, anti-fatigue mats are the only solution that really has an activating effect on the venous pump, and therefore the best equipment when it comes to prevention of fatigue or musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace.
Want to find out more about anti-fatigue mats, see our easy to digest video.