Standing in the same spot for the large part of a nine hour shift taught me that mats matter. Since I was new to the position, I stood on a section of cardboard for a week until the company was able to provide me with one of those anti-fatigue mats. The combination of exceptional footwear and the anti-fatigue mat almost instantly made my days more bearable, and my legs and lower back felt much better at night.

Research has shown that anti-fatigue mats ease leg, foot, and lower back pain. A comfortable worker can often be a more productive, with less chance of experiencing chronic discomfort as a result of unnecessary strain.

In a histology lab, one of the more common hazards revolves around paraffin dripping onto the floor. There have been incidents where paraffin has been tracked into different parts of the building, resulting in harmful spills from unsuspecting personnel. Special carpet mats have been designed for this type of environment, being resistant to particular chemicals as well as promoting a safer work environment through anti-slip surfaces and reduced fatigue.

According to the NSC (National Safety Council), slips and falls are the most common reason for emergency room visits. Most injuries sustained in a fall involve the back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, or knee. Although I have not personally visited the hospital as a result of a fall, I have slipped on an unsecured mat. I can say the experience was every bit as slippery as ice without any indication of danger. If it wasn't for my lack of success learning how to ski and skate (sadly, I'm an expert at falling) I believe I would have ended up with a concussion.

In a laboratory environment such falls can be avoided with anti-slip mats that have anti-fatigue capabilities and chemical resistance as well. If these areas expose mats to hazardous material, you can find ones that are autoclavable.

Other laboratory environments may require specialized mats, such as contamination control mats for clean rooms; emergency station mats for emergency showers, eye wash stations, or areas where floors can get wet; or even mats that can be used near high voltage areas.

With your workers on their feet every day, your choice of mats can play an important role in the overall safety of your lab.