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October 9 2015
5-11 October is BackCare Awareness Week in the UK. Organised by the charity BackCare, the week aims to raise awareness of the problems that arise because of back pain. Although this year’s focus is on children, the event is a reminder to ensure back injury prevention in the workplace.
Ensuring workforce health and safety is an important part of being an employer, and back problems are well known as a source of difficulty for both employees and employers.
According to an ONS report from February 2014, back and neck problems accounted for 31 million working days lost due to sickness absences in 2013. Aside from the generic ‘other’, back and neck problems were the most common reasons for absence due to sickness at 24 per cent.
In terms of economics, the annual cost of back pain to the UK economy is £12.3 billion. This is made up of £1.6 billion in healthcare resources, £1.6 billion in informal care, and £9.1 billion in production loss due to illness. Read more in this report from the BMJ.
Back pain is often associated with jobs that involve long hours sitting at a desk, but it is also important to raise awareness of back care with jobs that involve a lot of manual work or driving. All three are common in infrastructure and construction.
Knowledge of the job itself and the tools available to do the job are important for those doing manual work and those who do a lot of driving. Does the worker have experience with using the tools for the job? Are there rest periods? Is there adequate supervision?
A good relationship between employers and employees is key to the successful management of back pain in the workplace. Employees need to know the necessary health and safety procedures related to their job. Those who manage or supervise need to be aware of procedure and ensure that those they manage are aware too. Fundamentally, employers can reduce the likelihood of injuries arising by undertaking regular health and safety training.
More useful information can be found in documentation from NHS Employers.
Find out more about the charity BackCare by visiting their official website.
Find out more about McGinley’s approach to health and safety training and management.
Image Credit: Quinn Dombrowski(flickr.com)