7 Common Anti-Fatigue Mat Safety Hazards
December 9, 2022 12:11:39 PM PST December 9, 2022 12:11:39 PM PSTth, December 9, 2022 12:11:39 PM PST
The No. 1 cause of workplace injuries? Slipping, tripping, and falling. The national average for slip-and-fall settlements? Over $100,000. One way to keep your employees safe, reduce legal risks, and support productivity is by carefully examining the state of your anti-fatigue mats.
Here are 7 common anti-fatigue mat safety hazards that can lead to slipping, tripping, and other employee health issues.
1. Missing Bevels
As mats age, it’s common for the edges to break apart. This can create a tripping hazard for your employees. Missing or curled bevels can also impact productivity if workers can't wheel carts and other equipment onto the mats, or have to spend extra time making sure they don't trip rather than focusing on the tasks at hand.
2. Dirty Mats Concealing Tripping Hazards
Whether dust, dirt, chemicals, metal shavings or food products, particles that build up over time can significantly reduce the life expectancy of your anti-fatigue mats. Dirty mats age faster, are slippery, and can obscure potential tripping hazards.
3. Piecing Together Disconnected Mat Parts
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), slips, trips, and falls are the most common cause of injury in the workplace for manufacturing companies. Machine and contact-related injuries are the second most common, which slipping and tripping can cause.
Placing multiple mat pieces next to each other to compensate for the need for a fully customized shape and designed-to-fit mat is yet another tripping hazard. As shared in No. 6 below, this anti-fatigue mat safety hazard combined with others actually led to a broken wrist for a leading manufacturing company.
Related: Winnebago Industries Saves $150,000 With Custom Anti-Fatigue Mats
Showing the before of a Minnesota facility for nVent.
Custom 100-1 Series mat designed by nVent to eliminate the hazards of individual rectangular mats being pieced together. The single custom shape precisely wraps around and fits the work area.
4. Torn Mat Edges
The rough edges on torn mats can cause tripping hazards for workers who need to frequently move to and from the mat. Similar to above, this impacts productivity as workers are required to spend more time focusing on their steps.
5. Stacking Mats for Comfort
One practice we often see when evaluating prospective client workplaces is the stacking of multiple, often older mats to create the comfort of a high-quality anti-fatigue mat. Beyond the tripping hazard this causes, stacking mats can also cause ergonomic/posture issues – impacting a worker’s feet, back and neck over time.
6. Incorrectly-sized Mats
Anti-fatigue mats that are too small or incorrectly sized for the area they’re used can lead to tripping hazards and increased employee fatigue if workers must regularly move on/off the mat.
The Toro Company, a leading lawn maintenance and turf product company, shared that a worker fell and broke their arm (2-minute video) due to rectangular mats that were too small, different sizes and thicknesses, and stacked and pieced together. The inconsistencies and exposed cement flooring created a trip hazard in tight areas.
The EHS manager over this facility removed the disconnected and incorrectly sized mats, and partnered with AcroMat to design a custom anti-fatigue mat that wrapped around equipment and covered the entire area. The facility also standardized its mat approach to reduce risks and elevate safety throughout.
You can hear from the EHS manager and see the changes they made in the YouTube link above.
Exposed cement, slippery mat surface, and inconsistent edges
The custom 100-1 Series mat we designed for Toro to eliminate safety hazards. 20-degree yellow borders highlight access points, nitrile rubber combined with drainage holes provide an anti-slip surface for up to 8 years, and the custom shape eliminates trip hazards from stacked rectangular mats pieced together.
7. Mats Long Past Their Useful Life
The average anti-fatigue mat lasts between 1-3 years. Lower-quality mats last as little as 6-12 months. Premium anti-fatigue mats – like the AcroMat 100-1 Series, 100-ESD Series and Premium NitriTuf – have a life expectancy of up to 8 years with proper care and cleaning. Made from 100% nitrile rubber, they don't compress over time and maintain their anti-slip, anti-fatigue qualities over the entire lifespan.
Old mats that are past their useful life break down and create the trip hazards explored above, among many other issues. It’s important to know the expected lifespan of your anti-fatigue mats and that they are performing the way you need them to. Our Mat Inspection Checklist offers a helpful tool to assess your mats.
Health, Safety and Recruitment/Retention
Beyond employee health and safety, workplace hazards can dramatically impact recruitment and retention. It's no secret there is a labor shortage in manufacturing. There are currently 900,000 open roles, a number that is expected to increase to 2.1 million by 2030.
Related: 5 Challenges Facing Safety Managers in 2023
Set yourself apart from the competition by creating a workplace that prioritizes the health, safety, and productivity of your workforce.
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