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DWF 3Sixty Blog

19 Practical Tips to Avoid Work-related Back Pain

Posted by Abigail Moss on Feb 10, 2016 1:16:50 PM


According to the Health and Safety Executive in their latest report (Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorder (WRMSDs) Statistics, Great Britain, 2015):

"In 2014/15 the working days lost due to
work related back disorders was 2,957,000 days
with the average number of days lost per case of 13.3 days.”

As you can see, if you or your team suffer from work-related back pain you’re not alone! Do you work at a desk daily? Crippling back pain occurs from regularly ‘hunching’ over at work desks. 

Sitting isn't the only problem

You should be aware of other causes of back problems that may occur in the work place such as exerting too much force from heavy lifting or moving objects. 

Make sure you are taking the general precautions layed out in this blog when lifting and handling objects. The HSE has produced an excellent publication "Manual handling at work - a brief guide" if you want more detail.

Lower back pain is a great cause of discomfort and also absence from work in the UK. Ask yourself, are you aware of the best way to sit for your health and comfort? Even if you think you do, you should check out these 19 ways you can prevent future problems...

                    When sitting at your desk

    1. Keep your head up and back straight. The computer screen should be two or three inches above eye level to reduce strain in your neck that can lead to back problems.

    2. Is your mouse and keyboard correctly placed? Sit within comfortable reach! Make sure you are not twisting your shoulder, arm or wrist when clicking.

    3. Take a walk. Varying your tasks and taking regular breaks are important when you spend most of your day at an office desk.

    4. Try to avoid making the same movements over and over. Sitting in the same chair, moving the mouse around and typing for hours isn't good for you.

    5. Regular movement is important. Try stretching and doing some shoulder rolls within your breaks is good as this reduces pressure on your spinal disks. This also increases activity and boosts circulation.

    6. Keep your feet on the ground. Make sure you plant your feet firmly on the ground. Keep them shoulder width apart and flat on the floor.

    7. Choose your chair wisely (if you have a choice!). Ensure the chair you are sitting in on a daily basis is comfortable FOR YOU! It is important for each employee in the office to have an adjustable chair. They should be able to adjust the height and back tilt to suit their needs.

    8. Don’t cross your legs. It may be comfortable this way but it makes it difficult to keep your spine straight and your shoulders square. This puts you at risk of overstretching your muscles.



      When lifting 

    9. Examine the load when lifting objects. Plan it! Is the load easy to lift/move or do you require additional help? Where will the load be placed?

    10. Remove obstructions. Considering any obstacles that may get in your way is important when assessing the lift. Considering the height of the lift is also important.

    11. Know your limits. For longer lifts you might need to consider resting the item on another object or asking for help from a colleague.

    12. Keep the load close to your waist. When lifting keep the heaviest side next to your body. If approaching the load closely is not possible, then you may need to slide the load 

    13. Grip on the load. Ensure this is comfortable. If possible, hug the load as close to your body as possible as this may be a better option than gripping it with your hands.

    14. Be stable! This is extremely important when carrying heavy loads. If you are unstable when lifting you may increase the chances of dropping the load and causing injury. Ensure your feet are apart and maintain a good balance.

    15. Wear appropriate footwear. For women out there, lifting a heavy object in heels may not be the best option!

    16. Keep your back straight. In other words form a squatting like position when lifting objects, fully flexing the hips and knees.

    17. Avoid twisting! Keep your shoulders level at all times facing the same direction and also avoid leaning sideways. If you need to turn, moving your feet is much safer. Keep your movements smooth. Avoid making sudden movements when lifting heavy objects as you may cause strain or injury.

    18. Don’t look down. When handling the load keep your head up once the load is being held securely.

    19. Bend your knees. When putting the load down, bend your knees smoothly and gently place it on the ground or surface required, then adjust to the desired position. 

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Topics: EvoSafe, HSE, risk management, health and safety