Work and back pain
In work and suffering back pain?
- Report back pain to your employer and to your safety representative if there is one in your workplace
- Talk to your employer and safety representative about how your normal work could be done in an improved way
- Your employer may be able to put you in touch with occupational health support. For more information on this please see the Advice for Employers pages.
What your employer can do to help
Your employer has to protect the health and safety of their workforce by law. They must:
- Perform risk assessments and put in place reasonable measures to reduce that risk.
- Act on any reports of ill health caused by work. If a worker returns after sick leave, the employer needs to make sure that the worker's health is not made worse by work.
- Provide reasonable adjustments to the workplace if a worker is disabled under the definition in the Equality Act 2010.
You have a duty to look after your own health and safety, including your back.
- try to take regular breaks;
- get up and stretch;
- sit up comfortably in a chair that supports your lower back;
- during computer work, ensure that you adjust your chair height so that your forearms are comfortably resting on the desk and your elbows are roughly at right angles;
- vary your tasks, so that you are trying to avoid the same movements for prolonged periods using the same part(s) of your body.
- co-operate with arrangements your employer introduces to reduce risks. This may be through systems or equipment in place for you to use or a system of reporting accidents, near misses or symptoms of ill health
Off work and suffering back pain?
- Keep in regular contact with your employer to make them aware of your situation, and to discuss what adjustments might be needed once you are ready to return.
- Discuss your needs with your employer and occupational health provider
- If there is no occupational health provider available, your GP or safety representative may be able to discuss possible work restrictions or adjustments.
- Suggest any practical workplace adaptations or alterations which might help you to cope while you return to full time working.
General information and advice on managing sickness absence and return to work can be found on the Managing Sickness Absence web pages.
- Manual handling at work: A brief guide
- Managing upper limb disorders in the workplace
- Manual handling assessment charts
- Risk assessment of pushing and pulling (RAPP) tool
- Making the best use of lifting and handling aids