Workers ignore risk of back injury as cases soar

Apathy towards the risk of back injury means recorded cases are rocketing in the UK workplace, according to new findings from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

Its survey reveals that 59% of employees are putting their backs in danger by not taking the risks seriously. This is partly down to not regarding the risk of back injury as something that applies to them, but it seems Britain’s ‘stiff upper lip’ also has a lot to answer for, the HSE said.

Sixty per cent of employees admitted to continuing with an activity, despite being aware of the potential risk of injury, because it was easier, quicker and ‘unlikely’ to happen to them.

“As the cause of one in six work-related sickness absences, it is worrying that such a high percentage of employees are ignoring the risks at work, particularly when the effect it can have on their wider quality of life is taken into consideration,” said Elizabeth Gyngell, head of Better Working Environment at the HSE. 

About half the people surveyed who suffer from a back condition will get it again within a couple of years.

Although it may not be debilitating, it can cause considerable misery, impacting not only on workplace productivity and job prospects, but also family life and hobbies. 

There are 468,000 people in the UK who suffer from a work-related back injury, and 74,000 new cases were reported to the HSE in 2004 alone.

These are not restricted to manual occupations such as construction, logistics and nursing, but also affect more sedentary office jobs, the research found.

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