Businesses Urged to Take Action on Back Pain

Businesses are being urged to take action during Back Care Awareness Week, which runs from Monday 6 October, by Derbyshire health leaders 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, just under a quarter of all sickness absences (30.6 million working days) are the result of musculoskeletaldisorders including backache. In the East Midlands around 2.6 million working days were lost to musculoskeletal problems, including backache and neck pain.

The cost to business of musculoskeletal pain is estimated at about two per cent of GDP (£394bn Q2 2014) – a staggering £7.8bn a year. Absence from work because of musculoskeletal disorder cost Derbyshire businesses around £85m.

Back pain is not generally caused by a serious condition and, in most cases, it gets better within 12 weeks. It can usually be successfully treated by taking painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

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:

“The most common causes of back pain are strained muscles or ligaments, wear and tear, bad posture and stress. If you work in an office and use a computer, you can avoid injury by sitting in the right position and arranging your desk correctly. Regular exercise, such as walking and swimming, is an excellent way of preventing back pain.”

George Cowcher, Chief Executive of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said:

“It is important that staff welfare is high on the agenda in all businesses and that includes ensuring that all workstations, whether blue or white collar, are ergonomically the best they can be for the job being done.”

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Published: 06/10/2014