Back Injuries at work are a frequent occurrence, especially if the job you do involves a lot of manual lifting. Whilst a back injury is not always physically noticeable anyone who has suffered a back injury will know just how painful and debilitating it can be.
It can have an effect on every part of your life both at work and at home, and in some instances it can be entirely incapacitating and unbearable.
If you or someone you know has suffered a back injury at work and believe that it was a result of someone else’s negligence then please contact us today to speak to one of our specialist personal injury solicitors.
Common causes of back injury:
- Incorrect posture at your work station
- Lifting heavy objects
- Slipping and tripping
- Road traffic accidents whilst in a works vehicle
- Inadequate safety equipment
- Failing to meet health and safety regulations
- Vibrating machinery/tools
- Insufficient training
It is not suggested that anyone lifts more than twenty pounds on their own, however in workplaces these days employees are often likely to lift excess weight and without adequate training, which in can lead to a back injury.
The employers of any company a have a duty of care to ensure all employees receive the required training to allow them to carry out their duties without causing harm to themselves or others around them.
A health and safety officer must be appointed to carry out risk assessments for their employees on a regular basis, and the health and safety poster must be displayed where it can be clearly seen at all times
Even if you have an existing back complaint that your employer is aware of and your employer does not adhere to health and safety rules, therefore exasperating the pre-existing back condition you may be able to make a claim for any increased discomfort and pain caused to your back.
Back injuries at work can include:
- Back Sprains and Strains
- Slipped Disc
- Herniated Discs
- Vertebrae Fracture
- Lumbar Pain
- Cumulative Trauma Disorders
The above conditions are usually caused by over exertion of the back and in some cases this is because the employee is carrying out extra duties because of cost cutting and staff shortages. Any of the above examples can also lead to other injuries such as weak hamstrings and abdominal muscles.
High risk occupations:
- Care workers
- Refuse collectors
- Maintenance works
- Office workers
- Hospital Staff
Working in an Office
You would not consider an office to be a place where a back injury could occur, however back injury in an office is not usually caused by lifting heavy objects but from prolonged periods of time sitting at a desk and more often than not with an incorrect posture.
The office environment can be very harmful to the back and neck. Working at a desk for eight hours a day can cause stiffness and discomfort which can lead to permanent back pain.
There are steps that can be taken, however, to avoid anything serious. Ensure the monitor is at the correct height, and the soles of your feet should be able to touch the floor. Sit upright with a small support at the small of the back.
Manual Handling Work
One of your feet should be slightly further forward than the other to keep balance and they should be slightly apart. Your back, hips and knees should be bent slightly but you shouldn’t be squatting. Tighten your stomach muscles so your pelvis is pulled in. Keep the weight close to your body, with your head straight and facing ahead and not looking down.
It must be remembered there is a considerable difference between what you are able to lift, and what you are able to lift safely. If a weight needs to be moved across the ground, push it rather than pull it. Training should be provided that details these procedures. If you have received an injury because training wasn’t given or was insufficient, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
Many jobs require driving for extensive periods of time. Lorry drivers operating on tight schedules, for instance, may have to carry on driving without taking rests beyond the recommended times.
Lorry drivers cannot drive for more than four and a half hours without taking a 45 minute rest. However, it is not uncommon for some employers when schedules are tight, to instruct drivers to keep driving in order to meet deadlines.
The obvious danger here is an accident caused by tiredness but there is the other hidden danger and often unforseen of back pain. Long periods of constant driving cause the back to lose its posture, and lead to an injury to the back and spine.
Treatments to prevent and ease back pain
Painkillers are normally all that it needed to treat short-term back pain, together with hot and cold presses and other home treatments. Using a pillow under your legs (if you sleep on your back) or between your legs and raising them towards your body (if you sleep on your side) will help the lower back to maintain its normal curve.
Another cause of back pain can be stress so it is important to try to relax. Investigations show that positive people are able to recover more speedily and avoid longer term pain. However, relaxing does not mean simply resting.
Making sure you are not overweight is important as a lot of upper body weight puts excessive strain on the back. Exercise will also strengthen the muscles and improve posture. Walking and swimming are especially good low impact exercise that can build up the strength of your back muscles.
Surprisingly exercise is a good way to prevent and reduce back pain. Lying in bed doing nothing can ease the pain for a short period but it has been shown to result in longer term damage.
If you have chronic back pain which has lasted for over a month then you should visit your doctor who may refer you to a physiotherapist. As well as this, group exercise sessions with an instructor could be carried out.
These again will focus on strengthening the muscles and improving posture. You may also be provided with manual therapy by a physiotherapist, osteopath, or chiropractor.
Various alternative methods such as the Alexander Technique and acupuncture are not supplied by the NHS but have been shown to have encouraging effects on patients with back pain, and back injury problems.
Counselling in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy and medication in the form of antidepressants may also be used as there are strong links between how you view the pain in your mind and how it affects you.
Claiming for a back injury
There are many of us who suffer from back pain in some form or another and back aches and pains are generally put down to everyday life and a symptom of growing old.
However if your back pain is as a result of an accident that wasn’t your fault and you believe someone else is responsible for not fulfilling their obligations then please contact us today and speak with one of our specialist personal injury solicitors who will be able to tell you if you are entitled to make a claim for compensation.