Back pain at work: Preventing pain and injury

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What are the common causes of back pain at work?

A number of factors can contribute to back pain at work. For example:

  • Exerting too much force on your back — such as by lifting or moving heavy objects — can cause injury.
  • Repeating certain movements can lead to muscle fatigue or injury.
  • Slouching exaggerates your back’s natural curves, which can lead to muscle fatigue and injury.

Of course, certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors — such as obesity, sleeping position, poor physical condition, smoking and stress — also can contribute to back pain.

What can I do to avoid back pain at work?

You can take steps to prevent back pain and injuries at work. For example:

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine.Maintaining a healthy weight minimizes stress on your back. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity — preferably spread throughout the week — and strength training exercises at least twice a week. Combine aerobic exercise, such as swimming or walking, with exercises that strengthen and stretch your back muscles and abdomen.
  • Pay attention to posture.When standing, keep your weight balanced on your feet. Don’t slouch. To promote good posture when sitting, choose a chair that allows you to rest both feet flat on the floor while keeping your knees level with your hips. If necessary, prop your feet with a footstool or other support. If the chair doesn’t support your lower back’s curve, place a rolled towel or small pillow behind your lower back. Remove your wallet or cellphone from your back pocket when sitting, to prevent putting extra pressure on your buttocks or lower back.
  • Lift properly.When lifting and carrying a heavy object, lift with your knees and tighten your core muscles. Hold the object close to your body. Maintain the natural curve of your back. If an object is too heavy to lift safely, find someone to help you.
  • Modify repetitive tasks.Use lifting devices, when available, to help you lift loads. Try to alternate physically demanding tasks with less demanding ones. If you work at a computer, make sure that your monitor, keyboard, mouse and chair are positioned properly. If you’re on the phone most of the day, use a headset. Avoid unnecessary bending, twisting and reaching. Limit the time you spend carrying heavy briefcases, purses and bags. Consider using a rolling suitcase.
  • Listen to your body.If you must sit for a prolonged period, change your position occasionally, stand up or stretch whenever you feel tired.

Back pain can plague your workdays and free time. You’re not stuck with it, though. Take time to examine your work environment and address situations that might aggravate your back. Even simple steps to ease back pain are steps in the right direction.

Top 10 Workplace Safety Tips Every Employee Should Know

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1.    Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

This step requires knowing the particular hazards of your job or workplace. Once you’ve learned these risks, you are able to keep clear of potential hazardous areas, and potential hazardous situations. Also, always be alert of machinery.

2.   Keep Correct Posture To Protect Your Back

If you work at a desk, keep your shoulders in line with your hips to avoid back problems. If you’re picking things up, use correct form so your back doesn’t get hurt. Avoid stooping and twisting. If possible, always use ergonomic designed furniture and safety equipment so everything you need is within easy reach.

3.   Take Regular Breaks

So many work-related injuries and illnesses occur because a worker is tired, burned out and not alert to their surroundings. Taking regular breaks helps you stay fresh on the job. One trick to staying alert is to schedule the most difficult tasks when your concentration is best, like first thing in the morning.

4.   Use Tools And Machines Properly

Take the proper precautions when using tools, and never take shortcuts. Taking shortcuts is the leading cause of workplace injury. It’s a huge safety risk to use scaffolding as a ladder or one tool in place of another for a specific job. Using tools the right way greatly reduces the chance of workplace injury.

5.   Keep Emergency Exits Easily Accessible         

In case of an emergency, you’ll need quick, easy access to the exits. It’s also recommended to keep clear access to equipment shutoffs in case you need to quickly stop them from functioning.

6.   Report Unsafe Conditions To Your Supervisor

Your supervisor needs to be informed about any workplace safety hazards or risks. They are legally obligated to ensure their employees have a safe working environment and will take care of the unsafe conditions and make them safe for you and your coworkers.

7.   Use Mechanical Aids Whenever Possible

Instead of attempting to carry or lift something that’s really heavy in an attempt to save a sliver of time during your workday, take the extra minute to use a wheelbarrow, conveyor belt, crank or forklift. Too many injury risks are involved with trying to lift something that weighs too much.

8.   Stay Sober

Around three percent of workplace fatalities occur due to alcohol and drugs. When a worker’s ability to exercise judgment, coordination, motor control, concentration or alertness is compromised, this leads to any number of risks for workplace injury and fatalities.

9.   Reduce Workplace Stress

Stress can lead to depression and concentration problems. Common causes of workplace stress include long hours, heavy workload, job insecurity and conflicts with coworkers or managers. Take your concerns about workplace stress to your supervisor to see how they might help you address them.

10.  Wear The Correct Safety Equipment

If you’re not wearing the correct safety equipment for a task, you may get injured. Depending on the job, equipment like earplugs, earmuffs, hard hats, safety goggles, gloves or a full-face mask greatly reduce the risk of workplace injury.