Our businesses are literally built on the backs of our workers. Understand employer responsibilities when it comes to back pain at work.
Backcare Awareness week offers the health and safety industry time to reflect on the importance of supporting good posture and promoting healthy backs. That’s why each year we help promote this great cause with our free backcare awareness pack.
What are the common causes of back pain at work?
Back pain can be caused by many work situations. The exact cause is often unclear, but back pain is more common in roles that involve:
- Heavy manual labour, and handling tasks in heavy industry
- Manual handling in awkward places, like delivery work
- Repetitive tasks, such as manual packing of goods
- Sitting at a workstation for a long period of time without a breakaway to stretch and move
- Sitting at a workstation that is not correctly adjusted
- Stretching, twisting and reaching
- Driving long distances or driving over rough ground, particularly if the seat is not, or cannot be, properly adjusted or adequately sprung
- Stooping, bending over or crouching
- Pushing, pulling or dragging loads that require excessive force
- Working beyond normal abilities and limits, and when physically overtired
- Operating heavy equipment, such as an excavator
Consult your workers
- You have a legal duty to consult with all your employees or their elected representatives
- Talking to your employees is helpful because they know what they find difficult and often have ideas about how to make improvements
- Involving workers and safety representatives in discussions about how to improve health and safety will also make it easier to agree changes and employees will be more likely to follow procedures that they have helped to design
- Some people are more susceptible to back pain than others, so it is important to consult employees in the risk assessment process
Preventing back pain: What can you do to help protect employees?
The physical demands of some tasks like manual handling, lifting, bending and driving heavy vehicles can trigger an episode or make existing back pain worse.
Take steps to reduce the risk of back pain in the workplace by:
- Considering how you can make jobs physically easier, such as moving loads on wheels, providing better handles on loads, adjusting heights of worktops
- Consult regularly with your employees on their health and well being to help you identify concerns and developing trends
- Take actions to address any outcomes from these discussions
- Respond promptly when an individual worker reports back pain
- Complete and document risk assessments and make any identified changes
- Visit the web pages for your industry for advice on workplace risks specific to your industry.
Looking for more information on backcare to send to colleagues? Don’t forget to download the resource pack! If you need a more powerful way of supporting your staff try Healthy Working (for free!), our e-learning and risk assessment software that tackles DSE, manual handling and other aspects of health and safety.