Preventing the Major Causes of Workplace Back Pain

One of the most common causes of workplace injury is basic back pain. Persistent back pain is caused by a variety of reasons and can affect those in physically demanding jobs, such as construction, as well as those in office jobs. In addition to increasing absenteeism and lowering production and efficiency, back pain also causes a significant number of workers' comp claims each year.

Causes of Workplace Back Pain
Although many things can contribute to back pain in the workplace, there are three main causes that occur most frequently.
  • Excessive lifting- Lifting objects that are too heavy or lifting them incorrectly often leads to back pain that can persist for long periods of time.
  • Repetitive motion- Those who perform the same tasks daily for extended periods of time are more prone to experiencing back pain. This is particularly true of individuals who work in a factory or production line and for office workers.
  • Improper posture- Improper posture also contributes to back pain and is primarily a problem for office workers who sit at a desk for most of the day and those who must stand for long periods.

Preventing Back Pain Injuries in the Workplace
No injury can be completely avoided, but employers can help employees prevent back pain injuries by training them on the proper techniques that can prevent back strain. Office staff and those who stand for long periods should be encouraged not to slouch, which causes muscle strain. When sitting, knees should be at a 90 degree angle to properly align the spine. If needed, a stool to support the feet can help achieve this.

Employers should provide back braces to those who are required to lift objects as part of their duties. Signs should also be posted in the workplace indicating the proper lifting technique and the maximum amount of weight that can be lifted by an individual. Finally, modify the workplace to eliminate repetitive tasks as much as possible. For example, a phone operator can use a headset to avoid repetitive motions on a switchboard.

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