If you work in physical jobs long enough, you will hear someone tell you to “put your back into it.” Yet putting your back into a task could lead to putting your back out, resulting in being unable to work.
Despite incredible advances in technology, some tasks still require humans to exert themselves. For instance, cranes can haul heavy pieces of steel high on a new skyscraper, but workers still need to carry bags of plaster up the stairs when renovating a house. Machines can dig trenches to lay internet cables under the ocean, yet digging a trench for a hosepipe in someone’s back garden still requires a man or woman with a spade.
Protecting your back is crucial when you rely on it to work
Back pain can persist for the rest of your life, affecting everything from your ability to sleep to your ability to earn a living. Therefore, you and your employer need to do all that is possible to protect your back.
- Employers need to minimize heavy work: Reducing physical effort is key when planning a job. There is no need to carry bags of plaster across the car park if the lorry could have dropped them at the front door. There is no need to dig trenches by hand all day if you can hire a small digger to do it in an hour.
- Employers must provide adequate training: Understanding and using proper lifting techniques will reduce the injury risk. Ensuring sufficient staffing will reduce the pressure to over-exert.
- The work area needs to be kept safe: When heavy work is necessary, it is crucial to ensure the ground is free from trip hazards. Tripping over uncleared cables while carrying a heavy bag of plaster will increase the risk of back injury.
- You need appropriate clothing: Work boots with adequate grip reduce the chance you slip and fall.
If your back is beginning to hurt, you need to stop and tell your employer. Carrying on will increase the chance of a severe injury, for which you may need to claim worker’s compensation benefits.