5 Solutions to Mitigate Risks Associated with Prolonged Standing
Workers who stand can run into many health issues, but options like seats, floor mats, footrests and more may help make a difference.
- By Alex Saurman
- Jul 06, 2023
When you go into a grocery store in the U.S., you’ll likely see a cashier behind a register, scanning items in repetitive motions during their multi-hour shift. But what you might not see is the health issues they deal with from the prolonged standing.
Many workers across the world are expected to stand on their feet for extended periods of time. According to Georgetown University, more than four hours of prolonged standing is enough to put workers at risk for health concerns.
While it depends on the person and the tasks being performed, these workers may face issues like varicose veins, pain in the lower back pain, feet and legs and neck and shoulder stiffness. Luckily, with the right solutions, this doesn’t have to be a reality for every standing worker.
Seats. First and foremost, if a worker can do their job sitting, providing a seat is a great way to alleviate the risks and complications of standing too long. Caution must also be taken here as excessive sitting can lead to health issues.
Adjustable workstations. Access to adjustable workstations allows workers to sit, stand or alternate between the two. Commonly seen in offices (but not limited to these spaces), these workstations come in a variety of styles, from electrical desks to desktop accessories to crank workbenches.
Floor mats. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), standing on certain floors can be uncomfortable but “wood, cork, carpeting, or rubber—anything that provides some flexibility—is gentler on workers' feet.” Anti-fatigue mats can provide this comfort without needing renovations. In addition, floor mats can help improve a worker’s blood flow.
Footrests. Something as simple as a footrest can allow workers more movement. By providing a footrest, workers can choose to prop one foot up and shift their weight throughout the day.
Different footwear or shoe inserts. The type of shoe a worker wears can make a big difference. “Feet are the foundation of the body,” said Janelle Kinnaird, Director of Marketing at Lehigh CustomFit, in an email. “Accurate fitting proper footwear is vital to keeping feet healthy and therefore the entire body well.”
So, what kind of footwear or accessories are ideal? “For workers who are on their feet for long periods of time, whether in a station position or moving all around, lightweight footwear with removable cushion, tailored heel and arch support and toe room for end-of-day swelling to avoid pressure constriction are critical,” Kinnaird said. “Athletic styles have become popular for these attributes as well as flexibility and lateral support.”
If a worker notices that a shoe’s footbed starts to deteriorate, which can happen “well before the rest of the shoe typically does,” Kinnaird noted that “Removing that footbed to add premium insoles and orthotics will help protect feet from the abuse of all-day standing by equalizing pressure, absorbing impact, and properly supporting foot tissue, tendons, muscles and the arch to maintain a healthy neutral body position.”