Back pain is one of the top reasons that people miss work—and that can lead to lost productivity, lowered employee morale, higher health costs, and more workman's comp claims. But what if you could go back in time and prevent the back issue from happening in the first place?
Consider injury prevention your company's time machine.
By focusing on these three leading indicators to an injury, you can likely stop a back issue from becoming a problem, and then into a chronic or even debilitating complaint:
Early symptoms: Someone may wake up feeling a little stiff in the lower back, and chalk it up to an overly enthusiastic workout session the day before, or maybe "sleeping wrong." But when that stiffness lingers or begins to reoccur, it's time to see it as a symptom instead of a temporary situation.
Ergonomics: The way we sit, stand, and move can set us up for disaster or success. Ergonomics is the study of posture and motion, particularly in a work environment. By simply observing from both a medical and an engineering perspective on how an employee does tasks, such as shoveling grain into the hopper, pulling product from the assembly line or pulling the 5th wheel pin of a delivery truck, it’s possible to detect potential issues that could eventually lead to back problems.
Behavior: One of the most overlooked aspects of back pain is employee behavior and lifestyle. For example, stress is a huge contributor to back pain because it limits pain coping abilities and increases maladaptive behaviors that lead to costly claims. Also associated with higher back pain are obesity, smoking, hypertension, and heart disease. Addressing larger health behaviors can yield benefits that include the back, but also improve wellness overall. Putting prevention strategies into place can help all employees, particularly those in an aging workforce who may be at higher risk for back problems.
Unfortunately, not every back pain issue can be stopped. But by focusing on tactics that prevent injury and address more minor indicators of problems, you can get your organization on track for the future.