Because more people are doing multiple tasks in the workplace today, many find they are standing more than ever before. Unfortunately, standing continues to be overlooked as a physical stressor in the workplace. But, some employers are beginning to realize the adverse impact long periods of standing can have on their staff, worker productivity and even corporate profitability.
Standing on hard surfaces for long periods causes muscles to become static. When this happens, blood begins to pool in the lower extremities, causing fatigue, pain in the feet and legs, as well as muscle fatigue in the neck, shoulders, and back.
"If the problem persists, the physical discomfort usually gets worse," says JoAnne Boston, business development manager for Crown Mats and Matting. "Worse yet, we now know these workers are at greater risk for causing accidents and injuries...meaning they are a danger to fellow staffers."
However, there are steps employers and standing employees can take to help minimize these problems, among them:
• Reconsider standing workstations, allowing workers to sit at the station, or consider sit/stand chairs that allow workers to remain seated even in a standing position.
• When standing at a workstation, the work table should be two to six inches below the elbow. This helps alleviate the shoulder and neck discomfort that occurs when a workstation stands too high.
• Prioritize reachable items; items that are used most frequently should be placed in a semicircular pattern about twelve inches from the worker’s body; this helps minimize stretching.
• The worker should elevate one foot, then the other, while standing to help alleviate low-back stress.
• Standing workers should take regular breaks that include both sitting and walking to help alleviate fatigue.

"Anti-fatigue mats should also be installed in standing work areas," adds Boston. "These mats are designed to stimulate muscles in the lower extremities. This enables blood and oxygen to flow more easily, helping to reduce fatigue and discomfort significantly."