Businesses and carers are being urged to take action during Back Care Awareness Week, which runs from Monday 7 October, by Derbyshire health chiefs and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce.
Back pain is currently one of the most common causes of long-term sickness absences among employees in the UK, second only to stress. Employers are being urged to seek advice from BackCare, the charity for healthier backs, on making sure that office furniture and equipment does not cause back pain.
Nationally, a quarter of all sickness absences (35 million working days) are the result of musculoskeletal disorders including backache. The cost to business of musculoskeletal disorders is estimated at about two per cent of GDP (£380bn Q2 2013) – a staggering £7.6bn a year, according to Office for National Statistics figures for 2011, the latest available.
Absence from work because of musculoskeletal disorder cost Derby businesses around £30m in 2011 while the figure for Derbyshire was £67.5m.
Research last year also found that 70 per cent of carers suffered back or shoulder pain. Yet problems could largely be avoided if people took precautions such as:
Wearing flat shoes with cushioned soles
Avoiding sudden movements
Reducing stress, anxiety and tension
Staying active with regular exercise such as walking and swimming
Correct handling and lifting.
Dr Avi Bhatia, Chair of NHS Erewash Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“Back pain can be caused by many work situations, so employers have a duty in consulting regularly with their staff about their health and wellbeing, carrying out risk assessments and responding promptly when an individual worker reports back pain.”
Dr Sheila Newport, Chair of NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, added:
“Carers have a vital role in looking after the wellbeing of others, often to the detriment of their own health. It’s important that carers look after their own backs and we would urge any carer who is concerned about recurring backache problems to see their GP as soon as possible.”
George Cowcher, Chief Executive of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said:
“Absence for whatever reason impacts on all businesses. Available evidence suggests that the bigger the company the more sick days workers will take but it is in smaller firms that the absence has the greater impact as there is less likelihood of having staff available to cover the absent person’s work. It is essential that proper ergonomic studies are carried out, whatever the industry, to reduce the risk of work-related injury, which can include backache.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
NHS Erewash CCG represents 12 GP practices, acting on behalf of 96,000 patients in Ilkeston, Long Eaton and surrounding villages.
NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG represents 57 GP practices, acting on behalf of over 525,000 patients.
The two CCGs are among four which are together responsible for the healthcare of people in Derbyshire.
Charles Malkin, Communications Officer
Tel: 01246 514971/07825 274111