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How to Combat Back Injuries at Work

Back injuries are one of the most common workplace health problems, whether you sit at a desk or lift heavy boxes all day or build houses. Daily tasks can put employees at risk of back problems, particularly if they perform the same repetitive activities throughout the day.

The good news is there are some ways to reduce the risk of back injuries at work. With a few tips, you can help your employees prevent problems that could leave them aching — and even cause them to miss work.

Reorganize the workplace

Some back pain can be caused by straining to reach objects, especially if it’s multiple times per day. All items that an employee uses regularly should be within easy reach. If an employee needs to answer the phone often, for example, offer a headset so they can avoid reaching for the handset.

If there are heavy items that need moving regularly, try to place them in an easy-to-reach area instead of on the floor or too high. This will help limit how much lifting takes place.

Design an ergonomic workplace

An ergonomic workplace encourages good posture, which helps support the spine. Ergonomic items can be purchased at office supply stores and can help keep the back, spine, shoulder and neck comfortable throughout the day. Items may include:

  • Desk chairs with lumbar support and adjustable seat heights
  • Headsets for employees who are regularly on the phone
  • Adjustable height desks and computer monitors
  • Soft floor pads for employees who have to stand often
  • Supportive shoes or insoles for employees who stand
  • Wrist or arm supports for employees who use keyboards

These items can save employees a lot of pain and help prevent injury.

Train proper lifting technique

Employees should use proper techniques for all tasks throughout the day, but especially lifting. When lifting, make sure they’re using proper lifting techniques and using their legs by squatting down low to get whatever is needed.

When lifting, they should squeeze the abdominal muscles to help carry the item, instead of putting all the strain on the back. Employees should not twist or overextend their backs, as this can also cause strain. Be sure the workspace is designed to limit unnecessary twisting.

Ideally and if possible, employees should ask for help when lifting heavy items. And employers should offer training to new employees and yearly work safety classes to ensure employees use proper techniques and avoid back injuries. Employers should also provide tools that employees can use to help lift and move items, such as jacks or dollies.

Remember to shift positions and rest

The human body needs breaks throughout the day to relax and stretch muscles. If employees sit a lot, remember to encourage them to get up regularly to stretch the back and legs. It’s essential that they take a quick walk around, reach above the head and do other stretches to loosen up muscles that may get tight.

If you have an employee on the move all day, encourage them to take their required breaks.

When it comes to back injuries, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take some time to think about the workspace and workday and find ways to help your employees protect their backs.

This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.

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