Managing the risk of back pain at work

Which workers are most at risk of back pain?

Which workers are most at risk of back pain?

Back pain is one of the most common OHS concerns reported by workers, and it affects employees across a range of jobs and industries.

It can be an especially difficult problem to prevent, detect and treat as the symptoms usually build up over time and it can be a while before you experience any notable effects.

Help is always at hand, however. DISC Sports and Spine Center, a US-based spinal health and injury correction clinic, has offered some sound advice for those most at risk of this work injury.

DISC outlined two types of job that were mostly like to lead to back pain in the long run. These were desk jobs and heavy lifting jobs.

According to DISC, people who sit in an office all day are among those with the highest risk of back pain if they don’t take preventative measures. Staying in one position for too long – even if it is sitting up straight with your back against the chair – can “contribute to deficiencies in spinal posture that create long-term health problems”, the organisation explained in an October 24 press release.

Employers are therefore encouraged to provide staff with office chairs that have sufficient lumbar support, in addition to implementing OHS training to keep employees up to speed with office best practices. For example, this includes regular stretching breaks while standing up, DISC says.

Manual handling jobs that require heavy lifting also bring with them significant back pain risks. DISC pointed out this is mainly down to poor lifting techniques, which can not only sprain ligaments and tendons but also harm the discs in the spine.

Workers may also be lifting greater weights than they can safely manage, so it is the responsibility of employers to make sure jobs are assigned to those with the physical capacity to perform them. It is also important to remind workers about the well-known lifting technique of bending at the knees instead of the back.

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