Small Business Brief

Safety & Loss Prevention

What to Do When Work Is a Pain in the Back for Your Employees

Do your employees suffer from back pain at work on a regular basis?

If so, it would be a good idea for you to try to do something about it. According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is the second-leading cause of doctor’s visits in the U.S. behind only upper respiratory infections. It makes back pain one of the most common reasons that people call out of work.

With more than 80 percent of Americans dealing with back pain at some point in their lives, it’s almost impossible to completely eliminate back pain from the workplace. But you can take a series of steps to make it a whole lot less common so your employees aren’t missing days due to back pain all the time.

Check out 6 things you should do to reduce back pain at work among your employees below.

1. Provide Them With Ergonomic Chairs

The average American employee works for almost 9 hours every day. And for the majority of that time, people tend to be seated at their desks in a computer chair.

If your company hasn’t updated its computer chairs since the 1990s (or even the 2000s, for that matter!), now is the perfect time to change that. There are ergonomic chairs that are designed to prevent back pain at work.

Most ergonomic chairs will cost a little more than standard computer chairs. But they’ll be well worth the investment when you consider that they’ll help your employees work without feeling any pain in their back for the most part.

2. Show Them How to Sit at Their Desks

Rolling ergonomic chairs into your office and giving them to your employees is the first step when it comes to fighting back pain at work. But it’s not the only step you should take.

While ergonomic chairs are a nice start, they’re not going to do your employees much good if they don’t sit at them the right way. Employees should practice good posture when they’re sitting in their new chairs.

Practicing good posture means:

  • Putting your back up against the back of your computer chair
  • Keeping your feet flat on the ground in front of you
  • Holding your head straight with your ears positioned right over top of your shoulders

In addition to practicing good posture, your employees should also put their keyboard and mouse within reach so they don’t have to overextend themselves to use them. If possible, they should also keep their knees right above their hips to improve the blood circulation throughout their bodies.

3. Set Up Standing Desks for Them

If you provide your employees with ergonomic chairs and show them how to sit down in them to work, it’ll go a long way towards reducing the back pain that they feel day in and day out.

Generally speaking, though, you should still try to get your employees up off their feet as often as you can throughout each day. This will prevent their backs from locking up on them because they’re sitting down too much.

To encourage them to stand, order standing desks for those who wish to use them. Standing desks are desks that, as their name would suggest, allow employees to stand up and work. They can send emails, talk on the phone, and do everything else they would do at their desk from a standing position.

4. Encourage Them to Take Breaks Often

If you don’t have the funds to outfit all your employees with standing desks or if your employees don’t want to use standing desks, that’s OK. You can still get them up and moving around to prevent back pain.

Let your employees know that you would like them to get up and stand, either at their desk or in another area of your office space, for at least 10 to 15 minutes every hour.

Even something as simple as a quick trip to the break room or the lavatory every hour can work wonders for your employees’ back pain and overall health.

5. Discourage Them From Doing Heavy Lifting

There aren’t many instances in which those who work in offices have to do heavy lifting. But there might come times when there are heavy boxes of paper or even heavy equipment that need to be moved around inside an office.

Give your employees hand trucks and other tools to make these kinds of jobs easier. And if they absolutely need to lift them by hand, show them how to lift with their legs instead of their backs. It could prevent serious back injuries from occurring.

6. Tell Them to Stretch Their Shoulders

The shoulders play a bigger role in back pain than you might think. Even though it might not feel like your shoulders and back are connected, a person’s back will often tighten up when their shoulders are tense.

Tell your employees to stretch their shoulders every so often to prevent them from causing back pain. They can do this by rolling their shoulders while keeping them squared up above their hips.

Your employees should also monitor their shoulders for signs of shoulder injuries. Frozen shoulder, thoracic outlet syndrome, and arthritis are just a few of the shoulder conditions that could lead to back problems down the line.

Do your best to learn more about these injuries and how they could affect your employees when they’re sitting at work all day.

Don’t Let Back Pain at Work Affect Your Employees

Back pain at work has become all too common among American employees. There are millions of people who are sidelined from desk jobs every year due to back issues.

If your employees seem to be calling out of work more and more often because of back pain, use the tips listed here to make it less problematic. By investing in new office furniture and setting aside more time for breaks, you can make work less painful for the people who work for you.

Check out our blog for 10 tips on how people can improve their health at work.