What should I know?
Back pain and other musculo-skeletal aches and pains are the single biggest cause of sickness absence. As well as the cost to the individual in pain and discomfort, there is also a huge financial cost to employers resulting in lost working days, increased sick pay and reduced productivity.
It is important to remember that most back pain, although distressing, is not due to any serious disease.
- 60 – 80% of adults will at some point in their lives suffer acute low back pain
- Most back pain will settle quickly although there may be recurring episodes
- If it is very painful you may need to reduce some activities
- However rest for more that 1 – 2 day usually does more harm than good
- Your back is designed for movement. The sooner you get back to normal activity the sooner your back will feel better
Musculo-skeletal problems in the workplace
- Review health and safety risk assessments (See HSE website)
- Ensure that staff are not being put at risk because of the work they do
- Involve staff in initiatives to make their jobs safer
- Develop a physical activity policy to encourage staff to have active lifestyles
- Encourage early reporting of aches and pains at work
- Take aches and pains seriously if they occur
- Help affected employees stay at work. Consider temporarily adapting job demands
- If sickness absence occurs stay in touch and help the employee come back to work as soon as possible
Where to get help
NHS Inform - http://www.nhsinform.co.uk/Health-Library/Articles/B/back-pain/symptoms
HSE (Back Pain) - http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/backpain/workers/work.htm