Back Injuries and your work

The majority of people in the UK spend a third of their days at work. However back injuries are a major concern for both employers and employees alike, and are cited as the most common reason for absenteeism among the UK workforce, with one in five of those who suffer work-related ill health citing back pain.

While research in America by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that around 80 percent of the population are affected by back pain during their working lifetime.

It is therefore essential that you are aware of the symptoms, the causes, the preventative measures you can take and your rights.

What are the most common forms of back injury?

The most common back injuries are sprains and strains, herniated disks and fractured vertebrae. An area known the 'lumbar' is one of the most common areas to experience back pain. It is also often referred to as the lower spine.

What are the likely causes of back pain?

Although there are numerous reasons as to why people may experience back pain, some of the most common reasons include:

  • Incorrect lifting methods
  • Posture
  • Repetitive lifting, bending, and twisting motions of the torso

Research has also shown that sedentary lifestyles can also increase the risk of back problems. General lack of exercise may lead to weakened abdominal muscles and hamstrings. Subsequently, the body's stronger muscles, which have remained in order to pull away from its optimal anatomical form, create an unbalance that can result in misplaced force application within the spine.

What are the specific work related factors that could cause back pain?

Back injuries in the workplace are very common. It is a legal requirement for all employers to ensure their workers are provided with adequate training and facilities to perform their duties to in a safe manner. Listed below are some of the main contributing factors to back injuries in the workplace.

  • Posture - Common in office workers and people sat down for long periods of time. For example, people who sit in front of a computer without regular exercise breaks may experience occasional aches and pains. The average human body can tolerate being in one position for 20 minute periods.
  • Repetition - Performing the same task over and over again can lead to muscle fatigue or injury. This is particularly common if the repetitious movement involves pushing yourself to the limit of your range or when your body is continually in an unnatural position.
  • Force - Exerting your body can cause a number of injuries, particularly to your back. Back injuries in jobs that are physical in nature are common and can be caused by frequently lifting or moving heavy weights.
  • Stress - Mental pressure, as well as physical pressure, can lead to tension in your muscles, which in turn may lead to back pain and tightness.

What steps can I take to prevent back injuries while I'm at work?

  • Cut down on carrying. Have materials delivered close to where they will be used.
  • Try to store materials at waist height.
  • Raise your work to waist level, if you can. Pipefitters use pipe stands. Masons have adjustable scaffolds to keep the work at waist height.
  • Make sure floors and walkways are clear and dry. Slips and trips are a big cause of back injuries.
  • Take rest breaks. When you are tired, you can get injured more.

What obligation does my employer have to prevent back injuries among the workforce?

As part of its overall health and safety risk assessment, your employer is legally obliged to assess the risks that its employees face when handling objects.

Your employers must:

  • Identify significant hazards in your workplace and consult staff about the hazards they face.
  • Work out which workers are most likely to be harmed or at the most risk of injury. For example young, disabled or pregnant employees may not need to lift or carry while there are other staff available to perform the same duties.
  • Evaluate risk and judge whether existing precautionary measures are adequate and all the staff are aware of them.
  • Record its findings. If the company employs five or more people it is required by law to write down its findings and inform staff.
  • Review its assessment and revise it when necessary.

If you feel your employer has not met one or some of these obligations regarding risk assessment, and you believe you have suffered a back injury as a result, you may be entitled to compensation.

Contact one of our experts to discuss your possible back injury claims case and we can quickly evaluate whether you have grounds for a claim.

Contact us now...
Make a claim with our online accident claim form
Free claim calculator
accident claims
injury claims
Call us 24/7 on 0800 970 2907

Article archive

November 2015 August 2015 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 April 2013 February 2013 January 2013 November 2012 September 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 November 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 April 2010