We all know that back pain is one of the most common problems adults face not just in Europe, but all over the world. Why is this issue critical for most workforces? Well, back pain is also the biggest factor as to why employees take leave from work.
European Employees And Back Pain
Chronic back pain tends to last longer, up to 12 weeks or more, than the occasional aches that disappear within a few days. It could be very severe which forces the employees to take leave and be absent from work to cure themselves.
Based on the European Working Conditions Survey, the data collected shows that the European workers, especially in Romania, Slovenia and Greece, tend to have the highest proportion of workers that have back pain problems. Back pain among workers is subjective due to the nature of work and the amount of physical strength which requires lifting heavy objects or more hand-on tasks whereby there is a risk of poor posture or physical strain.
Hence, workers in the health & social care, construction and agriculture industry are more likely to experience back pain which can be quite severe, resulting in them taking leave from work to recover.
In some cases, one of the major causes of lost working days is due to musculoskeletal conditions, namely, back pain. One example includes the workers in Sweden where around 13.5% of the sick days consist of those experiencing neck and back pain. The side factor that leads to back pain is also during cases when workers are already ill, but they still came to work. This could result in body aches due to excessive pressure on the body when the body is being forced to work despite it showing signs that rest is needed.
The majority of the people that have acute back pain will not see a doctor. They would either let it slide for a few days by taking off days, or try to cure it by themselves by following back exercises from a trained professional that provides easy access through an online source, for instance, the Back in Action Program by Kimberly Clark, which is an eBook which can be downloaded on the website, or Youtube channels which are all-free access, making it the more common option for people who want to cut cost without paying a visit to the hospital or a specialist.
How To Overcome This Problem
One of the ways we can reduce back pain among workers is by providing a much more organized structure. There are certain tasks that involve stretching, twisting, poor posture, and heaving lifting, causing unnecessary strain to the back.
Together with the sedentary lifestyle and lack of poor health such as obesity, there is a higher risk for those who are in poor conditions, resulting in an increased risk for a back injury or worse. Employers need to ensure that the work being done does not contribute to the health of a worker, especially those who are poorer in health. How do employers do this? By providing access to physiotherapy or health treatments for those who need it. Maintain a relationship with your employees by providing effective communication. If there is an employee who has a chronic condition or having problems with the job that is causing problems, it should be addressed by the employer and find ways to solve them.
Aside from that, psychological factors also contribute to back pain. For example, for employees to reduce the amount of absence, there has to be job satisfaction. When an employee took a few days off due to back pain, it is probably because of bad working conditions at the workplace. Hence, employers could help improve this situation by providing fulfilling and satisfying job scopes such as replacing the furniture in the office with ergonomic chairs or tables. Ergonomic or assistive technologies also help if the job requires long hours on the desk with the laptop or computer. By improving the working environment, employees will feel more comfortable to work and thus, reduce the risk of getting backaches as well. Flexible hours could also be implemented so that they are able to take a break in between working hours to go for a stretch or walk.
In summary, the proportion of the EU’s working-age population is quite high, with them going through at least a chronic condition or a long-term issue such as back pain. If this issue is addressed earlier, the burden of chronic back pain can be easily avoided in the future and thus, prevent employees from taking too many days off for this particular reason.