Why are back injuries so high

Safety focus: Why are back injuries so high?

Posted on 29th Jul, 2016 | By Lorretta Tatham

When it comes to accidents and injuries in the workplace, back injuries come out on top. Manual handling is the main work activity that causes back disorders and work-related musculoskeletal injuries like these – that are responsible for around 9.5 million working days lost each year.

In their 2014/2015 Health and Safety Report, the HSE highlighted just how severe the impact of musculoskeletal disorders can be. During this time period, there were 169,000 new cases reported and 553,000 cases of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in total. The highest rates of injuries of this kind were found in building trades and skilled agricultural occupations, as well as construction industries. 40% of these musculoskeletal disorders affected the back and 40% affected the upper limbs; those over the age of 45 at a higher risk of being affected.


What are the risks to back injuries?

worker lifting heavy package and straining back

The main cause of back injury is poor manual handling technique, but wear and tear, bad posture, and stress can also lead to back injury.


Common causes of back injuries include:

  • Stacking and unstacking containers, boxes and crates
  • Lifting, pulling and pushing items
  • Overreaching, for example – from a ladder


Associated types of back injuries include:

  • Strain
  • Sprain
  • Herniated disk


Managing the risks of injuries to backs in the workplace

warehouse worker demonstrating lifting correctly

One of the best ways to ensure you look after your back and limbs is to lift correctly and follow the proper manual handling techniques.

Before you lift something, spend a moment or two thinking about it – assessing whether it’s too heavy for you to lift. If it is, do not attempt to lift it and talk to your employer about other options. It is always better to push heavy items rather than lift or pull them.

If you make the decision to lift an object, start in a good position, bend at the knees and keep the load close to your waist at all times. As you manoeuvre the item, maintain a good posture too – keeping your back as straight as possible, avoiding twisting or leaning sideways.

When you’ve reached the desired location, place the load down directly beneath you and then adjust it. Don’t attempt to twist and place it down.

Before completing any kind of manual handling work, it’s also a good idea to stretch beforehand. This gets blood flowing to the muscles and discs between the vertebrae in the spine.

Improve lifting standards with Browns training courses

If you want to learn how to protect yourself against injuries at work, we recommend our Manual Handling Training Course. Designed to meet the needs of anyone lifting or carrying loads at work, this course will help you to stay safe in the workplace. Upon completion, you’ll be able to identify potential hazards and risks and determine the safest method of lifting and working safety to avoid injury.

We also recommend our One Day Emergency First Aid at Work Course to all employers. To find out more, visit the course details page.

Have you ever suffered a back injury as a result of an accident in the workplace? If so, share your story and health and safety tips in the comments below. Alternatively, you can tweet your story to us @BrownsLadders


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