Workplace injuries and illnesses can have a significant impact on individuals, workplaces and our community, with musculoskeletal injuries the most common of workplace compensation claims.
According to Safe Work Australia, work-related injury and musculoskeletal disorders led to 90% of serious claims in 2014-15, with the most common traumatic joint/ligament and muscle/tendon injuries (almost 45%).
ABS statistics for 2017-18 show that technicians and trades workers, and community and personal service workers were the occupation groups with the highest rates of people who experienced a work-related injury or illness. Lifting, pushing, pulling or bending was the most common way persons experienced their work-related injury or illness.
Preventing back pain at work
A worldwide study led by the University of Sydney has proven that lower back pain is the most commonly recorded of workplace injuries, ranking higher than any other condition.
Often both severe and costly, back injuries can arise from several ergonomic exposures including heavy lifting, forceful movement, awkward positions and poor workstation set up.
The Mayo Clinic suggests you can take steps to avoid and prevent back pain and injuries at work.
Pay attention to posture
When standing, balance your weight evenly on your feet. Don’t slouch. To promote good posture when sitting, choose a chair that supports your spinal curves. Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Remove your wallet or mobile phone from your back pocket when sitting to prevent putting extra pressure on your buttocks or lower back.
When lifting and carrying a heavy object, lift with your legs and tighten your core muscles. Hold the object close to your body. Maintain the natural curve of your back. Don’t twist when lifting. If an object is too heavy to lift safely, ask 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 frequently talk on the phone and type or write at the same time, place your phone on speaker or use a headset. Avoid unnecessary bending, twisting and reaching. Limit the time you spend carrying heavy briefcases, purses and bags.
Listen to your body
If you must sit for a prolonged period, change your position often. Periodically walk around and gently stretch your muscles to relieve tension.
Prevent workplace injuries
With many injured workers needing time off to heal and recover, business also suffers due to a loss of capability. So, it’s important you invest in workplace safety programs, and implement injury prevention strategies to instil a safety culture and mindset in your workforce.
Preventing workplace injuries is all about being proactive. Don’t wait for things to go pear-shaped, make a risk assessment and spot where employees are getting injured the most. Use our expertise will help prevent injuries in your workplace.
Of course, if a worker sustains an injury, our dedicated occupational health doctors can help. Our doctors will work with both the worker and employer with the aim a successful return to work.