Work related injuries aren't only sustained by people who do physical work. Certain types of muscle, ligament and cartilage damage are quite common to white collar workers too. In most instances, such tissue damage caused by repetitive movement, bad posture and non-ergonomic work environment and facilities, can lead to certain permanent injuries.
One of the most common problems caused by the negative factors listed above is low back pain. Low back pain tends to be ignored and disregarded by many workers who experience it. Dismissing the problem as just another short-term back pain, caused by last week's overtime, or sleeping on the couch too many nights in a row is what most people do, however ignoring this particular injury can lead to chronic back pain, and possibly long term disability.
It is generally agreed, that apart from specific or individual-related factors, lower back pain is caused by continuous repetitive activities, usually performed in the workplace. Such repetitive motions will lead to fatigue or straining of specific muscle groups, which then causes further damage to ligament, peripheral nerve system and many more, if left unattended. An easy to comprehend example of what causes low back pain is poor body position while working on a desktop computer. Of course, sudden, unexpected movement, including falls, slips and trips can also cause sudden lower back pain.
From Short Term Lower Back Pain to Chronic Pain and Permanent Injuries
Developing chronic back pain is not something which happens overnight, however it is something certain, if the problem is ignored for too long, or if measures aren't taken to lessen the strain at work, or to improve the working conditions, if possible.
Short term back pain can be brought upon by many different factors in the workplace. Most people on a desk job will experience back pain sooner or later. Recent statistics and research into the mater have actually indicated that nearly three quarters of all working population will fall victim to low back pain, which could lead to permanent physical injury. The time it takes for short term low back pain to become chronic or permanent, is not the same for all people, and the amount of time depends on numerous additional factors.
However, the study in question has indicated that individuals who match certain demographic, physical, occupational and psychological characteristics are more likely to have permanent or chronic back pain within five years or so, of experiencing the initial symptoms, provided there are no measures taken.
What Happens If the Problem is ignored?
Lower back pain is a big problem for many workers, and ignoring the issue or sweeping under carpet for the time being will only make matters worse in the long run. People who don't speak out, as well as individuals who choose to ignore the problem can develop permanent disability within five or so years of experiencing the initial symptoms.
This is an issue on a progressive scale, and eventually there will be an increased percentage of disabled people who are willing to work, but incapable of doing so due to the permanent or chronic pain they are experiencing. One such situation is also a strain for the economy and social welfare system of any country as an increasingly large portion of the population will not be engaged in the main workforce of the country therefore not able to produce.
So What Can Be Done In Order To Avoid and Deal With Low Back Pain?
Lower back pain can lead to a lot of long term suffering for individuals and their families. A person with a chronic or permanent injury, not to mention disability, will likely experience reduced quality of life for the remainder of their lifetime. In this case, matters are made worse by the fact that all the pain and suffering could have, and should have been avoided. Dealing with the problem effectively is best done by prevention, though in this case workers, employers and medical slash health and wellbeing organisations will have to join efforts in the battle.
Employees who experiencing initial or advanced stages of low back pain should report the situation to their health and safety officer, or inform their employer directly, if that is possible and appropriate. Workers who have valid and reasonable suggestions and ideas on how to improve current working conditions and environment should discuss those with the relevant people at the organization. In some cases, the employer may put workers in touch with a specialized organization or group which to assist them, in case there are no other means of dealing with the problem at that particular moment in time.
Workers who want to help themselves in avoiding and dealing with lower back pain can physically do this by taking sufficiently long, regular breaks. Stretching, and walking around for a couple of minutes every hour or so, is also a very good way to lessen the impact of repetitive strain injuries. Working in an ergonomic environment is essential - sometimes employees don't take the time to adjust their office chair, desk or computer peripherals properly. Task variation, if possible is also recommended in order to avoid repetitive movements with certain parts of the body.
Employers who are looking to eradicate low back pain from their workplace should provide workers with ergonomic work conditions. The science of ergonomics is quite an elaborate one, so consult with qualified experts if necessary. Also, employers should review each complaint or report very carefully and take appropriate measures immediately if that is possible. Certain workplace adjustments can take place immediately, through using the assistance of staff health and safety officers.
Important: If an employer ignores reports of work related back pain, leading to potential permanent injury, workers have the legal right to contact a workers' compensation attorney who deals with such cases, as one such legal practitioner will be able to advise, and consult individuals on what can and should be done in these situations.
Written and published by David Drasnin on behalf of Mr. J. Michael Parsons-an experienced workers compensation attorney in Atlanta, Georgia . If you need a consultation with workplace related injury or health related issue, contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today.