Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and many of the debilitating back injuries that leave people disabled happen in the workplace. Most of the time such injuries are totally preventable, and many of the preventative measures are simple and inexpensive. There’s just no reason to let a bad situation at work turn into a lifelong disability. What can your business do to support employees’ backs?
The Importance Of Ergonomics In The Office
Ergonomics are crucial in workplaces where people sit in front of computers all day. Monitors should be at eye level so there’s no craning of the neck to see. Keyboards should be at a comfortable level to prevent hunching over. Chairs should be supportive and help people maintain good posture. The problem? Everyone is different heights with different arm lengths, so standard office furniture may not be the best solution. Look for chairs, desks, monitor stands, and keyboard stands that are adjustable to the right angles and heights for each person.
It’s also important to encourage breaks from sitting. Sitting puts more pressure on your lower back than standing or lying down, so taking regular breaks to stretch or go for a walk are critical for preventing low back pain and injuries.
Options are always best when it comes to preventing injuries in the office. Bicycle desks and treadmill desks in a common area encourage both changing positions as well as exercise. Desks that transform from sitting desks to standing desks also encourage movement and different positions throughout the work day.
Physical Jobs Have Even Greater Risks
Workplace back injuries in jobs where physical activity is required can lead to even more serious injuries. Impact injuries come from lifting heavy objects repeatedly, such as warehouse order packers or package handlers. Repetitive physical tasks such as those that you see in factory work can also cause serious injuries over time. It’s important to allow workers to take frequent breaks to stretch, to trade jobs so repetitive tasks are minimized, or to provide machinery or tools that can aid in lifting and other physical tasks.
Recovery Is Key
Oftentimes workers in both types of environments have limited resources and time off to recover when an injury does happen. Unfortunately this means that simple fixes, which are often highly effective but take time to work, aren’t effective. This can lead to more serious and costly problems down the road. Ensuring workers have enough time and resources to fully recover from a potentially life-changing injury can make a huge difference on overall well-being as well as workforce participation.
Back pain is insidious and can cost people their livelihoods and peace of mind. Preventing back pain from becoming an issue in your office is a small way to show you employees you value them as people and that you care about their health and well-being. Caring for them once they are injured can keep them in the workforce longer. Preventing back pain and addressing it fully when it happens should be at the forefront of any employee wellness program.