Back Care Awareness Week – 3 – 7 October 2022
Back pain is one of the biggest causes of work absences, accounting for more than 12 million days lost every year.
‘Backcare’ is a charity established nearly 50 years ago by a group of people who wanted to help back pain suffers. The Charity publicises and promotes the latest advice and research, from a broad range of health professionals into the causes, management and prevention of back pain. The Charity has extensive links with the NHS, Government Departments, industry and other voluntary organisations. ‘Backcare’ recognises there is not one single solution to back pain. They aim to give a balanced viewpoint on the different information, advice and therapies available. As a Charity they say that they can give unbiased advice.
- The Organisation’s flagship ‘Back Pain Awareness Week’ helps people understand the real problems of back pain sufferers. Through their media campaign via press and radio, millions of people have been reached and the organisation listens to members and invites collaboration into research, into the causes, management and prevention of back pain. The Charity’s board of trustees is made up of leading healthcare professionals
The aim of the week-long event, which is organised by ‘Backcare’, the charity for healthier backs, is to raise awareness of the problems back pain can cause, as well as prevention and treatments.
Back pain is ‘more debilitating than any other condition’, recent studies have found and the condition may now be the leading cause of disability worldwide. One study looked at how much disability is caused by lower back pain globally. It found that lower back pain caused more disability than any other condition, affecting nearly 1 in 10 people and becoming more common with increasing age.
The condition was most common in Western Europe, followed by North Africa and the Middle East, and was lowest in the Caribbean and Latin America.
The EU Agency for Safety & Health reports that about 44 million workers in the EU have musculoskeletal disorders caused by their workplace.
In the UK almost 31 million days of work were lost last year due to back, neck and muscle problems, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS’s Labour Force Survey, which polls hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, found that musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, which include a large range of bone and joint complaints, accounted for more prolonged absences than any other ailment.
One of the messages of ‘Backcare Week’ is to point out that the posture of many workers when sitting at a desk is really quite shocking – and that taking breaks, standing and stretching are beneficial rather than sitting for long periods with bad posture.
Whatever you do it is very important to make sure that your work station area is set up correctly for you and simple changes can make such a big difference. Some workers can be seen with their computer keyboard too far away from them, so their arms are really outstretched, or the keyboard has been balanced precariously on a pile of documents or an uneven surface whilst the worker is attempting to type!
The Charity’s ‘Backcare Shop’ has information packs available, based on back problems found at home, at work and at play. They also have a great selection of back friendly bags to help ensure that you reduce the chance of any potential back problems.
While workers might all know the best way to pick up items, boxes, parcels and equipment safely, they tend not to think about the effect everyday tasks have on our backs; like picking up shopping or children’s toys, things around the home, garden, garage etc.
It’s thought that 4 out of every 5 adults will experience back pain at some point in their life, so the campaign week invites you to get an information pack or obtain a selection of Information Sheets available (listed below) and find out what Branches and Reps can do to run local awareness campaigns to help members prevent it. It should be stressed that local information and awareness raising campaigns on back care can be organised locally by Branches, Safety Reps and Safety Committees at any time, not just during the campaign week, as the problem and information is relevant all year round.
‘Backcare’s’ Top 10 Tips For A Healthy Back:
- Exercise your back regularly – walking, swimming (especially back stroke) and using exercise bikes are all excellent to strengthen your back muscles but anything that you enjoy and helps you keep active will be beneficial.
- Keep active and moving even when you have pain. Gentle walking and stretching will prevent stiffness. Also try to avoid long periods of bed rest as this is counterproductive.
- Always lift and carry objects close to your body, bend your knees and your hips not your back and never twist and bend at the same time.
- Try to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle as this will help prevent back pain. Quit smoking as it increases your chances of developing back pain.
- Use painkillers when pain occurs to allow you to carry on being active. If pain is persistent see your GP as they may be able to prescribe stronger painkillers or investigate further.
- Consider your work environment. If you work in an office look at your workspace and ways to adapt it to help you manage your back pain. If your work is more manual in nature try to be aware of and work according to health and safety procedures such as manual handling or loading procedures.
- Try to carry loads in a rucksack or a trolley and avoid carrying single sling bags.
- Always try to maintain good posture. Avoid slumping in your chair, hunching over your desk and walking around with your shoulders hunched up.
- Always use a chair with a back rest and sit with your feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest. Don’t forget to change your sitting position every few minutes.
- If you do suffer from back pain caused or made worse by being at work, talk to your employer or HR department. They may be able to help you come up with adaptations to your work environment, patterns and activities in order to help you better manage your back pain. Information sheets made available by ‘Backcare’ are provided for information only and should not be considered as medical recommendations or advice.
‘Backcare’ Information Sheets:
The Charity has a huge library of various information sheets which can be accessed here: https://Backcare.org.uk/i-have-back-or-neck-pain/library/
Become a ‘Backcare’ Member:
You can Join ‘Backcare’ and receive the Charity’s free monthly e-newsletter and other information and updates. Go to: https://Backcare.org.uk/get-involved/
TalkBack is the quarterly magazine of ‘Backcare’, the UK’s national back pain charity – featuring news, views and leading edge commentary for all involved with and affected by back pain. Editions are available to download from the ‘Backcare’ Website (address below).
More Information – ‘Backcare’ Website:
For more information, visit the ‘Backcare’ website for information on how best to deal with aches and pains before they turn into something more serious. Website: http://www.Backcare.org.uk/
- HSE Employers Guide – Back Pain
- HSE Manual Handling A Brief Guide INDG143
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer