Did you know that the workplace can be a potential high-risk environment for back injury?
It’s true. Countless claims year after year for accidents that could easily be avoided by considering the risks, taking more time and making the company aware of any safety hazards.
Back injury or neck injury that result in chronic back or neck pain are the most common workplace injuries. Injuries include muscle, tendon and ligament strains and sprains as well as disc herniations or bulging discs.
While many large companies do have a procedure in place, along with staff to conduct regular safety checks, it’s always a good idea to be aware of your own safety and the things you can do to avoid back injury and spinal damage.
Other workplace injuries may affect the knees, shoulders or elbows. Knee problems are common amongst professionals such as painters who regularly climb ladders or crouch down.
Inflammation of the bursa from overuse or misuse of the shoulder joint can lead to painful bursitis. Tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow can occur as a result of inflammation from overuse or misuse of the tendons in the elbow. Many of these joint injuries can be prevented through stretching and strengthening exercises and using proper equipment.
Here are some tips on workplace activities to help avoid back injury and injury to neck, knees, shoulders and elbows.
Daily tasks can be surprisingly stressful on the body. We just were not made for sitting for long periods of time.
Tips for those daily activities:
- Take regular breaks
- Stretch your legs for exercise
- Wear good-fitting shoes that stay on the feet
At the desk
Over 80% of jobs require us to sit at a desk. Sitting for long periods of time can cause stress to our backs, shoulders, necks and heads; leading to fatigue, headaches and considerable pain.
Tips for a strain-free back when sitting at your desk:
- Sit comfortably in your chair with a straight back
- Don’t slouch in your seat as this will cause strain to the neck
- Press your bottom and shoulders into the chair and move the chair as close as you can to the desk
- If you have to lean closer to the computer, use a cushion behind your back
- Wrists and joints are also susceptible to strain, so use a wrist rest or padded mouse mat
You may only have to walk up and down one flight of stairs or you may be a regular walker who enjoys the energetic buzz of climbing many stairs. Either way, stairs for the most part are unavoidable and part of working in an office.
Tips when walking up and down the stairs:
- Take your time on the stairs
- Hold onto the rail
- Don’t run
- Place you feet firmly on the stairs so that you don’t slip on the edge
Most everyday jobs have an element of lifting – from cardboard boxes to moving furniture. If you are a regular traveler, then lifting cases, laptops, etc will play a huge role when in transit.
Back and neck injuries can be prevented through proper lifting techniques and regular stretching. Improving core strength is another important aspect of preventing back injuries. We often strain our backs when lifting or moving due to a lack of abdominal muscle strength that forces us to use the muscles in the back more than they should be used. Maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce the risk of injuring your back.
Tips to save your spine when lifting:
- Be sure to lift from a ‘squatting’ position and use your knees to stand upright.
- Avoid bending over at all costs.
- Ask a co-worker to assist you if your back is weak. Lifting with two people also distributes the weight – again, bend in the knees.
Many workplace injuries can be prevented by optimising the function of your entire musculoskeletal system. If you would like an assessment to check the health of your spine, please contact your local Chiropractor.
Dr. Benjamin Martin is a Chiropractor at Optimal Chiropractic in Ballincollig, Cork. Learn more about Dr. Ben by visiting this page.