Work-related back pain is one of the most common workplace injuries. It is usually caused by common work activities, such as sitting in your office chair or heavy lifting.
Of course, a lot depends on various personal factors, such as genetics, shape, and lifestyle. Also, not all back pains are the same. You can have pains in your pelvis, lumbar, or neck.
Among the most common causes of backaches suffered at work are poor posture and prolonged periods of sitting, especially in positions that are unhealthy for your back, such as slouching in an office chair.
Back pain is usually an annoying condition, but it can also be a crippling condition that renders you unable to perform regular daily tasks. That is why you should do everything in your power to prevent this from happening to your employees.
At the same time, preventing work-related back pain can reduce absenteeism and increase your company’s productivity. Among all the simple steps that can be taken in fighting back pain, the most important ones relate to proper posture and exercise.
Here are some ideas how to prevent and fight work-related back pain.
1. Set Up An Ergonomic Workplace
Your employees spend a better part of the day in their office chairs. This means that they are critical in providing a proper support to spines and back muscles.
Ergonomic chairs are rather common these days as a lot of businesses have recognized their great effects on employees’ health and safety.
Since they have become a common office item, you should be able to find them at affordable prices. But you should always keep in mind that a good ergonomic chair should enable the correct sitting posture of its user at all times.
It needs to have appropriate lumbar support, adjustable backrest and seat tilt. This will prevent painful episodes because the chair prevents back muscles and ligaments from being too strained.
2. Instruct Your Employees On How To Correct Their Posture
Here are some things to do while sitting and working:
- lean your back on the backrest
- hold your back straight and relax your shoulders
- bend your knees under 90 degrees and rest them on the floor
- avoid slouching or bending forward
- keep your elbows in line with your wrists while typing
The easiest way to figure out the best standing posture is to stand with the back of your head against a wall. Place your heels approximately 15 cm away from the wall. Your buttocks and shoulders should be touching the wall. Draw in your abs. This is how a good posture feels. Keep that in mind and mime it until it becomes your habit.
Correct posture at all times prevents vertebra from slipping from their natural position. This can turn into a crippling condition if not prevented and treated.
3. Consider Installing Standing Workstations
Experts these days say that sitting is the new smoking and that too much sitting can kill you. As dramatic as it may seem, sitting places more pressure on your lower back than standing does. So, it is worthwhile considering the option of standing while working. The ideal option is to change between standing and sitting while working.
Standing stations don’t take up much of your office space. As there are great benefits to your employees’ health, so should definitely consider placing them in your office.
4. Consider Moving Desks
Old habits die hard and some employees will no be keen on using standing desks. Another great option to consider is moving desks.
Moving desks are forcing your employees to change positions which does wonders for their spine and prevents back pains. These adjustable height desks automatically raise and lower the desk, forcing people to stretch their legs and back.
5. Properly Position The Computer Monitor
One frequent cause of recurring back pains and headaches is the way you hold your neck. If you bend it forward too much, you prevent the blood from circulating and you press on the nerves.
People usually do this while trying to look at their computer screen. This is why it needs to be positioned properly so you can clearly read the screen without bending your head, neck or trunk forward or backward. Any awkward position should be avoided. Also, make sure that the monitor is positioned at your eye level so that you are not forced to look down or up to use it.
6. Use Document Clip Holder For Computers If Necessary
Your employees might sometimes be required to look at their papers and a computer screen at the same time. This involves a lot of neck twisting and turning, which consequently results in neck pain, headaches and back pain.
By fixing a document clip holder onto a computer screen, this can be prevented by providing your employees with a comfortable position for working on their computers.
7. Provide Posters With Proper Lifting Techniques
Although lifting heavy objects is not usually a part of the everyday routine in the office, it is still better to have your employees informed about proper lifting techniques. If the need arises, they will be ready for it and some serious injuries will be prevented.
Posters illustrating proper ways to lift objects are visual everyday reminders that come in handy in making your employees aware that a lot of injuries and back pain can be prevented.
8. Make Use Of Cushions
Spending a lot of time in the office requires proper lumbar support. Ergonomic chairs usually have it and you don’t have to worry about that if you choose to buy them for your office.
However, if you cannot afford to buy ergonomic chairs, you can always use cushions or even a simple folded towel. All of these are good for maintaining your proper sitting position as proper lumbar support will be ensured.
9. Encourage Employees To Practice Yoga
Apart from having many great benefits on the human body and mind, it is also healing for your back. It makes your ligaments, muscles, and bones more flexible and prevents strains and back injuries.
There are many ways to encourage your employees to practice yoga. You can offer a free membership at a yoga centre, or work out a discount. Or even better, hire a yoga teacher to come to your office and practice there.
10. Teach Your Employees Breathing Techniques
The importance of breathing is easily overlooked because it’s something we all do, all day, every day. However, few do it correctly. Learning breathing techniques is important as it improves many health aspects of people’s lives. Proper breathing is a simple way to relieve stress, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and leave yourself energised to carry on with your day. But it also builds your abdomen muscles, which makes it a great prevention strategy for back pain.
Abdomen muscles help you keep your body straight. They also relieve the pressure your entire body puts on the spine. Proper breathing strengthens them and it also forces your body to assume a proper posture.
11. Emphasize The Importance Of Regular Stretches
At least hourly, and ideally every 15 minutes, stop, drop and shake. Stretching exercises will help you get rid of any tension in your muscles and boost your energy levels and productivity.
Regular stretches don’t have to last long. Even a short break will do if exercises are done properly and at regular intervals. Your body is designed to move. On the plus side, regular stretches and exercises reduce absenteeism due to back pain and boost productivity. They are definitely worth the trouble.
12. Provide Headsets For Telephone Conversations
Using a proper headset on a daily basis will reduce unnecessary back pain and fatigue caused by cradling the phone between your head and shoulder. By not holding an actual telephone receiver, you can freely move your head, neck, and shoulders, and both of your hands are free. This significantly reduces muscle tension and allows longer job performance. This is why you should make sure that everybody in your office has proper headsets.
This will allow your employees to maintain healthy posture while talking over the phone. This especially applies to employees who work in call centres and use phones in their everyday work constantly as this can badly reflect on their health.
13. Have A First Aid Kit And Ice Packs Ready And Easily Accessible
Apart from the usual back pains and aches, bad posture and inactivity are causes of many injuries and accidents. In this case, you’ll need to have a first aid kit and ready ice packs to alleviate the pain and damage caused by an injury.
Employers are required to have adequate and appropriate first aid kits that are easily accessible through the venue. They need to be compliant with the rules and regulations and restocked on a regular basis.
Give us a call and we will offer you our rented first aid kits that are carefully tailored to your needs. We will also make sure they are compliant and well-stocked at all times.