‘Handling injuries’ (otherwise know as back injuries) top the list year after year in the Health and Safety Executives (HSE) study into absence from work with a massive 1.6Million days lost in the year from 2012/2013. On average a person who is absent from work for this reason was off for 10.8 days.
Why so many back injuries?
“Bend at the knees” is something we’ve all heard along the line. And we all know that there’s a limit to the weight we should lift when in the workplace but it’s all too easily forgotten when we need something moving.
None of us want to be a burden on our work colleagues and I dare say there is a little machoism when it comes to the male species and lifting in work but the guidelines are there for our safety. To lift something heavy without help or not in the proper fashion is to risk damaging the muscles in the spine. It’s painful and it can last a long time laying you up in bed miserable when you could be at work being productive.
It is definitely the employers’ responsibility to ensure safe work practices but as an employer you must take responsibility for yourself, seek out the safety information and putting it into practice.
Tips for reducing your risk of suffering a back injury
- Exercise – maybe not in work but certainly outside of it… Dancers, sportsmen or people who do physical labour rarely hurt their backs because their muscles are being used much more. When in work you should get up and walk about as much as possible and certainly a minimum of once and hour to keep the muscles from laying dormant too long.
- Stairs – take them – don’t be lazy and take the lift all the time!
- Posture – whether you’re sat at a desk all day or driving a van / lorry, you have to ensure your setup is right and is promoting a healthy posture. Make sure your neck is not straining to look at your screen. Ensure your seat is at the correct height so as not to let your shoulders slump.
- Correct footwear – are heels the best footwear to be wearing to lift that PC? Ensure you’re wearing suitable clothing and footwear for the job.
- Lifting technique – Keep the back straight, bend at the knees and don’t try to lift anything too heavy for your own strength. Do not lift anything by simply bending at the waist. Do not twist in any way when you lift. Keep the object in line with the centre of the body to keep the weight evenly distributed through the spine.
- De-stress – A lot of back pain is born out of stress so ensure you relax as much as possible with things like meditation, yoga and general exercise.
What to do if you suffer a back accident in work
Physically damaging yourself in work leaves you feeling pretty frustrated. A back injury can put you out for anything from a few days to months and often without pay. Making a claim against your employer for missed wages and the general suffering the injury you sustained in work is fair. They should have insurance for this type of circumstance so it really is not something to be worried about.
Can I claim?
If you have suffered the injury in the last 3 years and it would pay to give us a call. In most circumstances we offer a No Win No Fee agreement so that there is no risk to you making a claim. Call for some advice now on 0800 028 2060 or visit our work accident page and complete the short form to have someone call you back.