Case 14: Back pain caused by lifting


Major multi-site biscuit and snack manufacturer with an Occupational Health Department (OHD). This site, based in the northeast, has 150 employees.


An employee had been absent from work on numerous occasions with a ‘bad back’. A further absence followed on the third day of which he was contacted by an Occupational Health Specialist Practitioner from the OHD.


A medical history was established and the employee referred to a physiotherapist for assessment and treatment. The employee was seen by the physiotherapist within 48 hours who provided feedback to the OHD. This indicated the type of back problem, the estimated number of treatment sessions required and the duties the employee was capable of undertaking at work.

The OHD ensured an appropriate light duties were in place when the employee returned to work.


Intervention by the OHD ensured –

  • appropriate physiotherapy advice and treatment was implemented early
  • the employee was only absent for 6 days (even though the GP had issued a sick note for 4 weeks)
  • on return to work, a package of light duties prior to commencing usual duties.
  • Food and Drink Manufacturing Forum
  • Federation of Bakers (FoB)
  • Craft Bakers Association
  • British Meat Processors Association (BMPA)
  • Dairy UK
  • Chilled Foods Association (CFA)
  • British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF)
  • Food Standards Agency
  • IOSH Food and Drink Group
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    Updated 2023-06-15