A Preliminary Study Describing the Effect of Flooring Surface on Discomfort and Behavior During Prolonged Standing

Research Trainee: Neil Wiggerman, MS, PhD Student, Dept. of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan

Faculty Researcher: W. Monroe Keyserling, PhD, Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan

Prolonged standing is a common activity for workers in a number of occupations and is known to be linked to increased risk of fatigue, discomfort, and several adverse medical conditions. Anti-fatigue mats, now common in many workplaces, have been found to decrease discomfort, however, reasons for this are not well understood. While many studies have been performed, none successfully identify material properties of mats (e.g., mechanical stiffness, etc.) that might lead to a prediction of discomfort, nor do they find reliable outcome measures that can be used to explain discomfort.

In order to develop a model that can predict discomfort during prolonged standing on different surfaces, preliminary research must be performed to identify material properties of floor surfaces that affect ratings of discomfort. The proposed pilot project will also examine the effects of floor surfaces on task performance and standing behavior (e.g., “fidgeting”). Using an in-shoe pressure sensor array, a measure of fidgeting will be developed which is expected to be correlated with subjective reports of discomfort. This measure is necessary to provide a metric to objectively evaluate discomfort and to refine theories on the mechanism and progression of fatigue during standing.


Publications resulting from this project:
Wiggermann N, Keyserling WM. Effects of anti-fatigue mats on perceived discomfort and weight-shifting during prolonged standing. Hum Factors. 2013;55(4):764-775.

Wiggermann NE, Werner RA, Keyserling WM. The effect of prolonged standing on touch sensitivity threshold of the foot: a pilot study. PM R. 2012;4(2):117-122. doi:10.1016/j.pmrj.2011.11.002.

Wiggermann N, Keyserling WM. Time to onset of pain: Effects of magnitude and location for static pressures applied to the plantar foot. Appl Ergon 2015;46(Part A):84-90. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2014.07.008.

Grants resulting from this project:
Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant

Research trainee’s current position:
Neil Wiggerman is currently the Ergonomics Lab Manager at Hill-Rom.