Back injuries in the workplace

back injuries

Back injuries are among the most prevalent workplace injuries, causing pain, discomfort, and lost productivity for employees. From lifting heavy objects to sitting for prolonged periods, various factors contribute to back injuries in the workplace. However, with proper precautions and proactive measures, employers can significantly reduce the risk of these injuries and create a safer work environment for their employees.

Understanding Common Back Injuries

It’s essential to understand the common types of back injuries that occur in the workplace:

Muscle Strains and Sprains: These are the most common types of back injuries and often result from improper lifting techniques, sudden movements, or overexertion. These are also also common for office-based workers who may sit with poor posture.

Herniated Discs: This occurs when the soft tissue between the vertebrae in the spine protrudes, causing pain, numbness, and weakness in the back and legs. Repetitive lifting or twisting motions can contribute to this injury.

Slipped Discs: Similar to herniated discs, slipped discs happen when the outer layer of the disc ruptures, causing the inner gel-like substance to bulge out. This can result from lifting heavy objects or sudden movements.

Compression Fractures: These fractures occur when the vertebrae in the spine collapse due to excessive pressure, often caused by falls or accidents involving heavy machinery.

    Preventive Measures for Employers

    Employers play a crucial role in preventing workplace back injuries. Here are some strategies they can implement:

    Provide Proper Training: Ensure that all employees receive training on proper lifting techniques, including how to bend at the knees, keep the back straight, and avoid twisting while lifting heavy objects. Regular refresher courses can reinforce these techniques and remind employees of their importance.

    Promote Ergonomic Workstations: Encourage the use of ergonomic chairs, desks, and other equipment that promote good posture and reduce strain on the back. Adjust workstations to fit individual employees to minimise the risk of discomfort or injury. Employers should regularly assess and inspect workstations to ensure they are adjusted correctly for workers, on-site, in an office or working from home.

    Encourage Regular Breaks: Prolonged sitting or standing can strain the back muscles and contribute to stiffness and discomfort. Encourage employees to take regular breaks to stretch, walk around, or perform simple exercises to relieve tension in the back.

    Implement Mechanical Aids: Provide mechanical aids such as forklifts, pallet jacks, or conveyor belts to assist with lifting and moving heavy objects. These tools can reduce the physical strain on employees and minimise the risk of back injuries.

    Promote a Culture of Safety: Foster a workplace culture that prioritises safety and encourages employees to speak up about potential hazards or discomfort. Conduct regular safety inspections and address any issues promptly to prevent accidents or injuries.

    Offer Wellness Programs: Implement wellness programs that promote physical fitness, flexibility, and overall health. Encourage employees to participate in activities such as yoga, stretching exercises, or strength training to strengthen the back muscles and reduce the risk of injury.

    Provide Access to Healthcare Resources: Where possible, provide employees with access to healthcare resources such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, or occupational health services to address any back-related issues promptly.

    How can oneSAFE help?

    Preventing workplace back injuries requires a proactive approach that involves both employers and employees. oneSAFE provides businesses with a platform to track and monitor risks, store and share key policies, documents and training content and communicate with employees.

    Speak to a member of the oneSAFE team to discuss how you can make back safety and injury prevention a part of your Health & Safety culture.


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