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Antifatigue mats

04/04/2012 @ 11:00am

Deciding whether to buy an antifatigue mat or choosing which one to buy probably won't affect your farming operation the way grain marketing, seed, or herbicide selections do. On the other hand, a little time spent learning about these mats can make your days in the shop safer, more productive, and more comfortable.

I've had a handful of antifatigue mats sprinkled around my farm shop for years. I recall buying some of them on impulse at ag shows and farm stores. I'm not sure they even had a label. Now, I am going to buy two or three new ones, and I'm going to be more selective and probably spend a little more money on quality and features.

I'll spare you the details, but personal experience and a review of the literature convince me that antifatigue mats do reduce the strain that comes with standing on concrete for hours at a time. Purchasing agents for factories may want to know how that translates into more productivity, less absenteeism, and fewer workers' compensation claims. But all I really want to know is that I've chosen the right mat for the job and that it promises to lessen the strain on my 64-year-old legs, feet, and back.

Antifatigue mats come in many shapes, sizes, and materials. The online Grainger Industrial Supply catalog that I turned to for prices lists 426 mats from Notrax, 287 from Wearwell, and 225 from Andersen. (These companies are producing mats for all kinds of industries plus the military.)

But that's not as overwhelming as it sounds. By spending a little time with catalogs and manufacturer websites, you can winnow the field. Start by deciding what size mat you need and where and how you'll use it. When you do a Web search, enter a use category such as welding.

At their websites, Notrax and others have schematic drawings of buildings with areas designated as offices, manufacturing, shipping, warehouse, and several others. You can click on the various areas and get a list of mats suitable for those areas.

A couple of the mats I have are approximately 1 inch thick and have straight-cut edges. From now on, I'm opting for beveled edges that are less apt to trip me. I think the black mats with attention-getting yellow, orange, or red stripes on the beveled edges would be a good choice from a safety viewpoint.

“From now on, I'm opting for beveled edges that are less apt to trip me.”

Last fall, I had to perform major repairs on a strip-till machine on the rock driveway in front of my shop. Tired of rolling around on sharp rocks, I used a 1-inch-thick 3×5-foot mat with round holes in it to cushion my back, knees, and legs. The square edges aren't a problem in that application.

I don't weld a lot and when I do, I'm usually moving around as opposed to standing in one place for a long time. Consequently, I may not buy an anti-fatigue mat for my welding area; I may just stand on the concrete floor.

Antifatigue Mats for Farm Shops

Antifatigue mats are available through many businesses that supply factories and shops, and they can also be obtained from numerous online retailers. The prices in this table are from the Grainger Industrial Catalog. Go to www.grainger.com, then do a search for antifatigue mats.

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