Low back pain is one of the most common types of health problems employees experience, and it’s certainly one of the most challenging ones to manage from an employer’s perspective. Low back pain (LBP) can be caused by an injury, and it can also be associated with poor posture or repetitive movements. When employees in your workplace experience low back pain, it’s essential to help them deal with it as effectively as possible.
Low back pain affects employees in all industries and all different levels within those industries. While you cannot prevent LBP from happening, there are many things you can do to help employees be more productive and efficient at work. This guide outlines some ways that you can help employees with low back pain while they’re at work and how to help prevent it from happening in the first place.
Ergonomic Work Spaces
When it comes to avoiding low back pain, a big part of it has to do with ergonomics. Incorporating healthy ergonomic workspaces into your office is a great way to help your employees stave off low back issues. One idea for creating an ergonomic workspace is by providing sit-to-stand desks, which allow workers to switch between sitting and standing throughout their day. Another is having adjustable chairs that can move up and down as needed. These changes don’t just make employees more comfortable, they also prevent slouching and encourage good posture.
Let Them Have Longer Breaks
Good posture means more than simply standing up straight. It also requires frequent micro-breaks throughout long periods of sitting. To help prevent low back pain in employees, let them stand up and walk around every 20 minutes or so while they work. Studies have shown that allowing workers these short breaks can significantly reduce back discomfort. At a minimum, you should make sure that employees are walking for a few minutes each hour during their working day. If possible, encourage them to do full sit-to-stand transitions once an hour.
Install Standing Workstations
If you have employees who spend a lot of time at a desk, encourage them to try outstanding workstations. These setups often include an adjustable height-adjustable table so employees can stand or sit as they’d like. It encourages blood flow throughout their body, which in turn helps prevent back pain. Sitting for longer than 30 minutes causes stress on your spine and could lead to increased chances of injury. Standing up for just one hour each day reduces those risks significantly!
Offer Health Services to Let Them Get Checked
The first step in helping employees with low back pain is ensuring they get checked by a doctor. The reality is that most cases of lower back pain are fixable, which can result in decreased absenteeism and increased productivity. Some health services that they might need are chiropractic care, rehabilitation therapy, and some cases, an MRI. There are open MRI procedures in case some of your employees get anxious from a closed tube.
Of course, you could also offer them wellness packages such as gym memberships or discounts on healthy food items. Giving your workers easy access to healthcare will likely help keep them more productive than if they were trying to manage their conditions alone at home.
Conduct Daily Exercises and Stretches
The American Chiropractic Association recommends exercises and stretches as a key component of a treatment plan for back pain. Simple movements and stretches can help relieve tightness, improve flexibility, and encourage proper posture. These simple movements include shoulder shrugs, shoulder circles, neck rolls, arm circles, leg kicks—and more! Encourage employees to include these daily exercises in their routine. You could even have an exercise class on-site one day per week.
Get Educated on LBP Issues in Your Industry
The more you know about your industry, including issues relating to low back pain, like ergonomics and safety hazards, the better equipped you’ll be when an employee comes to you for help. Many courses and certifications can add value to understanding these issues. For example, many industries will offer extended LBP training as part of their certification programs. Taking advantage of these opportunities can show employees you have a sincere interest in their health and well-being by providing them access to free or reduced-cost education on treating common workplace injuries.
Additionally, receiving a certificate for completed educational requirements demonstrates that you are willing to go above and beyond your basic job responsibilities to ensure safe work environments at every level of your organization.
Thankfully, low back pain is not a major cause of death. But that doesn’t mean it should be treated lightly. Be sure your employees know about these eight options for keeping their backs healthy—so they can return to work as soon as possible.