Thursday, September 29, 2011

Backpain at work: Can your employer help?

Ever return home from work with a sore back? You're not the only one - and around a quarter of the UK population will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives.

Many cases of back pain can be brought on by long sitting or standing periods at work, and anything from the wrong safety equipment to the height of your chair or computer screen could contribute to these aches and pains.

But there are some things that employers can do to promote back safety in the workplace, and a number of regulations are in place to ensure these standards are upheld. Here are some of the ways your employer can help promote good backcare in the workplace:

Risk Assesment: All employers should adhere to goverment guidelines perform health and safety risk assesments, which an assesment of back safety in the workplace. Knowing about these can help ensure you know what is and isn't acceptable at work.

Handling goods: There are a number of back pain regulations surrounding the manual handling of goods at work, and a few things employers can do to make things safer for the backs of their staff members, such as putting wheels on heavy crates or implementing lifts for heavy materials. Keeping yourself up to date on these regulations mean that you will know exactly what your workplace should be providing, and enable you to make informed decisions when it comes to looking after your back at work.

Chairs and equipment: All chairs and computer equipment should be appropriately levelled so as not to harm the backs of employees when sitting for long periods of time. This NHS guide offers some more information on the chair and computer adjustments that can be made to reduce back pain.

Access to medical advice: Bigger organisations sometimes give employees the chance to seek medical advice from a company doctor or offer free or affordable business health insurance so you can get checked up if you ever have back pain. Access to this advice will make sure you know what you should and shouldn't be doing at work when your back is sore - and you can also get advice about the ways to strengthen it and keep it healthy out of the office too.

Keeping active: Staying active and not sitting or standing in the same position for too long is recommended to keep backs healthy. Employers should encourage or allow movement around the workplace at regular breaks, so you are never left in the same position for too long.

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