Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Eight in ten adults will experience back pain at some point in their lifetime, but causes and treatments are always vastly different from person to person. There are many factors in the typical American workplace that can lead to debilitating back pain if they aren’t addressed. Is your business doing enough to prevent back pain among workers?
Common workplace back injuries can vary depending on the workplace. In jobs that require physical labor such as bending and lifting, impact injuries as well as repetitive strain injuries are the most common. These injuries are also difficult to recover from and difficult to avoid in the first place because of the nature of the work being done. Oftentimes once an injury occurs a worker doesn’t have enough time to recover from it, further exacerbating the injury until it’s too late.
But sitting at a computer all day can lead to other types of strain injuries. Ergonomics are crucial in this case because improperly positioned keyboards and computer monitors can cause workers to crane forward, which puts the entire spine out of alignment. This can lead to both neck pain and lower back pain as workers strain to get comfortable hour after hour.
Half of all Americans have missed work because of back pain, and there are 264 million missed work days every year because of back pain. This means that back pain is a tremendous expense to our economy and to each and every business in the United States.
What can be done to prevent back pain from becoming an issue in the first place? Many workplaces focus on things like work/life balance and wellness, so ensuring workers are able to take care of their physical needs is a great first step. Back pain can lead to a poor quality of life, affecting everything from peace of mind to the ability to do everyday tasks. Simple things like buying ergonomic furniture and ensuring workers have options for seating, desks, and more can really help.
In all types of jobs, varying work tasks can help prevent repetitive strain injury. If there is an opportunity to switch roles frequently, it can give sore muscles a chance to recover before damage is done. This is especially important when it comes to bending and lifting, but it can also help with desk jobs. Giving people the option to change from sitting to standing, switch chairs, or move to another location for a while can also give strained muscles and joints a chance to recuperate.
Back pain can be sneaky. It’s important to catch it at the first sign and address it fully before it turns into a long term problem. There’s also a lot you can do proactively within your business to prevent back pain from ever becoming an issue in the first place. Learn more about the cost of back pain to your business as well as what you can do about it from the infographic below.