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Matting Can Increase Worker Productivity
The word “ergonomics” is defined as “the natural laws of work”. Optimal performance, which many of us define as productivity, is the ultimate goal of ergonomic design. The implementation of ergonomic concepts offers tremendous value to any company, and can be realized with the creation of comfortable, healthy and safe work environments.
We know that standing workers are less fatigued and feel less discomfort at the end of the day if they stand on anti-fatigue mats. This has been proven time and time again. To take this one step further, it is logical to assume that comfortable workers will be more productive. However, until recently, no studies have been conducted to investigate this theory. Driven by our customers desire to justify the purchase of anti-fatigue mats, we decided to conduct a long-term study to test that very premise.
Panel A
The Wearwell® Productivity Study:
In 1998 we were introduced to a regional company that had a significant accident rate and a high level of absenteeism. We offered to provide their workers with Wearwell® anti-fatigue mats in exchange for their participation in a long-term study. The test was primarily designed to determine if the use of anti-fatigue matting could be linked to increased productivity. We also anticipated correlations between the use of anti-fatigue mats and reductions in standing fatigue because this had already been proven time and time again in other research. The participating company was a manufacturer of commercial ovens. It was the largest and “best” employer (in terms of wages and benefits) in a 30-mile radius. The company faced several difficult issues, specially a high injury rate and a high rate of absenteeism, especially on Mondays when it often reached 10%. From the outset, we were hopeful that the use of anti-fatigue matting would moderate these issues.
The Process
Our ultimate goal was to install one type of matting throughout the manufacturing area to eliminate any deviation in test results based on the “comfort level” of the mats used. Unfortunately, there were several difficult areas such as spot-welding and arc welding. Despite these diverse environments, Diamond-Plate SpongeCote No. 415 was installed in 95% of the facility (in all but two of the areas). The second step was to design questionnaire which assessed the worker’s perceptions of their current work surface (i.e. Concrete), overall level of fatigue before and after work, and the fatigue and discomfort level of their legs and feet before and after work. Workers filled out the questionnaire three times a week for two weeks before the mats were installed.
Panel B After collecting that data, the mats were installed. As a comparison, the workers filled out the same questionnaire during the year long study. The results of the “Worker Perception” aspect of the study are very clear. The participants felt considerably less fatigued before and after work following the installation of anti-fatigue mats. In addition, the “at risk” areas of their bodies such as legs, feet and lower back, were much less uncomfortable when anti-fatigue mats were used. Worker’s perception is very important, but the unique aspect of this study was that it revealed a strong correlation between the use of anti-fatigue mats and productivity. Before the installation of anti-fatigue matting, the rate of absenteeism and the “lost time” injury ratios were very high.
The decreases in absenteeism and lost time injuries resulted in a significant gain in productivity.
By comparing the stats of the twelve (12) months prior to the study - July 1, 1998 to July 1, 1999, to the twelve (12 months) of the study - July 2, 1999 to July 1, 2000, the logical conclusion is that the installation of anti-fatigue mats resulted in an estimated 2.2% increase in productivity. Fifty percent of the 2.2% increase in productivity was due to lower absenteeism rates. And the other 50% can be linked to decreased down time due to lost time injuries. It’s worthy of note that the company had an established workforce and did not implement procedural changes that could be linked to increased productivity.
ROI - Return on Investment
Panel C
“Soft Cost Savings”
Insurance companies calculate these “Soft Costs” by multiplying the Total “Hard” Cost Savings by a multiplier between 2 and 6. In this case, Tennessee Mat chose to be conservative and used the lowest multiplier, ie 2. The calculation for Soft Cost Savings is as follows:
Hard Cost Savings of $360,000.00 x 2 = $720,000.00 Soft Cost Savings
Panel D Not all companies have such dramatic results, but virtually all would tell you that anti-fatigue mats make a very positive impact on their employee’s morale and performance.

 
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