Back pain in the workplace
Causes of pain
Back pain can be caused by many work situations. The exact cause is often unclear, but back pain is more common in roles that involve:
- heavy manual labour, and handling tasks in heavy industry;
- manual handling in awkward places, like delivery work;
- repetitive tasks, such as manual packing of goods;
- sitting at a workstation for a long period of time if the workstation is not correctly arranged or adjusted to fit the person, eg working with computers;
- driving long distances or driving over rough ground, particularly if the seat is not, or cannot be, properly adjusted or adequately sprung.
- operating heavy equipment, such as an excavator,
- stooping, bending over or crouching (poor posture);
- pushing, pulling or dragging loads that require excessive force;
- working beyond normal abilities and limits, and when physically overtired;
- stretching, twisting and reaching;
Consult your workers
- You have a legal duty to consult with all your employees or their elected representatives.
- Talking to your staff is good because they know what they find difficult and often have good ideas about how to improve things. Involving workers and safety representatives in discussions about how to improve health and safety will also make it easier to agree changes and workers will be more likely to follow procedures that they have helped to design.
- Some people are more susceptible to back pain than others, so it is important to consult employees in the risk assessment process.