As a manager you must protect employees from the risks of developing back pain caused by work. There are things that both you and your employees can do to manage back pain in the workplace.
Some work tasks can cause back pain or make existing pain worse:
- lifting heavy or bulky loads
- carrying loads awkwardly, possibly one-handed
- pushing, pulling or dragging heavy loads
- manual handling in awkward places, such as during delivery work
- repetitive tasks, such as packing products
- bending, crouching or stooping
- stretching, twisting and reaching
- being in one position for a long time
- working beyond your capability or when physically overtired
- working with display screen equipment (with poor posture)
- driving long distances or over rough ground, especially if the seat is not, or cannot be, properly adjusted or operating heavy equipment
A major reason for developing back pain is having had a previous episode, particularly if it was recent.
You can reduce the risk of back pain in your workplace:
- identify what activities can cause back pain and decide whether they can be avoided or changed
- ask your workers for input – they have first-hand knowledge of the work and can suggest changes
- think about how you can make jobs physically easier, for example, by moving loads on wheels
- make sure controls, for example lifting aids, are available, used and maintained
- look for signs of back pain among your workers, such as a reluctance to do a particular task, which may suggest your controls are not working
- encourage them to report problems early to you or their worker representative so they get the right help
People with back pain usually recover completely if the problem is recognised early and treated appropriately.
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