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Written by
on 25 April 2012


Protect your Back

The cause of many back conditions is often unclear, however many jobs can lead to the problem. Employees who experience back pain often need to take time off or seek medical advice. More serious conditions can lead to surgery and extensive time off work and even lead to workers having to give up their job permanently. As an employer you must consult with your employees on how to reduce the risks of back pain, including working solutions into risk assessments if any employees are especially sensitive to this condition.

Roles Where Back Pain is More Common

Some of the most common types of jobs where employees are often more likely to experience the pain are:

  • Those involved in manual labour or heavy handling duties
  • Delivery workers who need to handle goods in awkward places
  • Long distance drivers
  • Those who are seated for long periods throughout the day
  • Operators of heavy machinery
  • Repetitive task workers such as packers

Some of the movements that can lead to problems in the back also include:

  • Twisting, reaching and over stretching
  • Pushing, dragging and pulling loads
  • Bending over, crouching or stooping
  • Anyone who is working outside their own physical abilities

Do Your Best to Reduce the Risks

In order to try and reduce the risks it is necessary to have a good communication with your employees. Ask them about any of their concerns and listen to what they tell you. Try and work together to find new ways of making the job possible to carry out with fewer risks to the back. So you could introduce new pieces of equipment or alter the heights of work surfaces and seating.  By carrying out risk assessments you should be able to identify the main problems and find a way of overcoming them.

When an employee has time off for a bad back you should start looking at their working methods. The sooner you make the changes the more likely the situation can be improved, reducing the needed for long periods of time off work.

What Your Employees Can Do

Workers need to be aware of the importance of communicated with their employers or the health and safety manager. When you notice your back is beginning to ache more often or for long periods of time go and see your doctor.  If you think the pains have been brought on by your work talk to your employer and raise your concerns. Your method of working can then be examined and new methods to help reduce the risk can be introduced.  You can also help prevent the problem by:

  • Taking breaks
  • Stretching and moving around regularly
  • Ensure the height of your chair allows you to rest your forearms on the desk or work station properly, with your elbows at right angles
  • Break up your tasks so you are not using the same parts of your body for long periods of time
  • Follow methods of work
  • Talk to your boss or health and safety manager about your concerns

Don’t let back pain disrupt your Workplace. Contact the health and safety consultants and discuss the available workplace health and safety services which are available. Call 0800 1488 677 to find out more.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.