Regardless of the type of work a person does, back injuries at work are a major concern. Whether it’s manual labor that involves lots of heavy lifting or a more sedentary desk job that requires a person to sit in front of a computer for long periods of time, the potential risk of back pain is real across the board. Even minor strain can alter a person’s quality of life, morale and productivity. From an employer’s point of view, having their staff take time off sick and the cost of compensation claims are reason enough to address the risk of back injuries in the workplace.
Naturally, prevention is always better than a cure. By looking at some of the main causes of workplace back injuries, it is possible to establish ways in which both the employer and employee can take action to prevent the problem:
Lack of Training
It’s easy to assume that everyone intuitively knows how to lift and carry simple things or sit properly at their workstation but evidence shows that this is not the case. Companies should provide their staff with adequate training for even the simplest of tasks, the same way that companies train staff to use software or heavy machinery. Mandatory training should be provided to teach proper lifting techniques and explain to office workers how important it is to have an ergonomic workstation and take regular breaks to stretch.
Incorrect Lifting Technique
When it comes to lifting – whether it be carrying boxes at work or lifting weights at the gym – it’s not enough to learn the correct technique just once. Knowledge fades, and people often become complacent. Staff requires constant reinforcement when it comes to back safety, and especially in industries that involve lots of lifting, supervisors should monitor the situation. Learning the right technique can help prevent workers from getting a back injury.
Inadequate Risk Assessments
When we do things over and over again, we often become complacent about the effort required to get the job done or become overconfident in our own abilities. And once this happens, mistakes that result in injury are more likely to occur. It is important for employers to carry out proper risk assessments, especially when it comes to repetitive tasks. Perhaps this involves constructing a more varied workday or introducing different shift patterns.
Cutting Corners and Rushing
Sometimes workers are in a hurry to get the job done so they can leave work on time and in other instances, there might be pressure from their seniors to meet certain targets. Lots of injuries happen when people cut corners or rush to get something done when they may already be exhausted. Of course, people need to be self-aware but companies have a role to play in creating a work culture that values the staff member so as not to impose unrealistic deadlines or pressure to get a job done.
Poor Wellness Initiatives
More and more employers around the world are starting to recognize the value of employee wellness. Having a happy and healthy staff means that they’ll be more productive and it helps to build staff loyalty. Implementing a good wellness employee program that promotes health is key – introducing workplace yoga classes or educating people about the best ways to sleep in with regard to back health – can really work wonders.
The Final Word
It’s evident that both the employer and employee have a role to play when it comes to back injuries at work. Everyone needs to recognize the importance of protecting their back and be ready to enter into a workplace if they feel things can be done differently. If you start to show any signs of a back issue, it’s crucial that you don’t dismiss the problem but seek the appropriate medical and legal advice to find out where you stand when it comes to a back injury from lifting at work.