A recent worldwide study led by the University of Sydney has proven that lower back pain is the most commonly recorded of workplace injuries, ranking higher than any other condition including cardiac disease and depression. Often both severe and costly, back injuries can arise from a number of ergonomic exposures including heavy lifting, forceful movement, awkward positions and poor workstation set up.
Most common amongst those who work in the agricultural sector and those within the 35-60 age bracket, lower back pain can affect people of all ages and in all occupations. In Australia alone, back pain costs around $4.8 billion each year for health care, with 25% of sufferers in the 18-55 age group taking 10 or more days off per year.
The burden of lower back pain due to ergonomic risk factors means that nearly 80% of adult Australians will experience back pain at some point during their lives, a figure that is on the rise due to inactive lifestyles and increasing obesity.
How to minimise lower back pain at work:
- Update engineering controls to ergonomic workplace standards
- Adjust work schedules and workloads to ensure repetitive work is allocated evenly across the staff
- Ensure regular breaks are taken from work that places any strain on your back
- Encourage employees to exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Warm up cold muscles with gentle stretches before engaging in manual work
- Never attempt to lift or carry loads if you think they are too heavy
- Take regular breaks and stop to move around every hour
- Regularly monitor and update any risk identification
- Discuss risk factors with employees
- Monitor injury records to help pinpoint and prevent recurring problems
For information or advice on modifying your workplace and work practice to meet ergonomic standards, give one of our experts a call on 03 9376 1844