2nd April, 2014

Are tradies suffering from lower back pain?

Lower back pain has been revealed as the most common cause of work-related disability worldwide, with tradies considered a high-risk profession.

New research from the University of Sydney showed the complaint makes up one-third of all long-term workplace injuries and costs Australia $4.8 billion a year in healthcare for the 18-44 age group alone.

According to the institution, around 25 per cent of Australians experience back pain on any given day, while 80 per cent of people complain of the ailment at some point during their lifetime. Furthermore, one-quarter of bad back sufferers aged between 18 and 44 take at least 10 days off work a year.

Professor Tim Driscoll of Sydney School of Public Health, said: "The people most at risk were those who work in the agricultural sector and those aged 35-65. However, low back pain is a problem for people in many occupations."

In fact, any jobs where vibration, heavy lifting, forceful movements and awkward work positions are prevalent are deemed high risk. This includes construction and the trades.

Any businesses wanting to ensure adequate protection against injury claims made in the workplace should review their existing workers' compensation insurance policy. This kind of insurance is mandatory in Australia and organisations without the right cover could risk expensive and time-consuming legal battles.

Professor Driscoll said business owners should be more educated on the risks of lower back pain and what it could mean for the workforce.

He stated: "Lower back pain arising from ergonomic exposures at work is a major cause of disability worldwide.

"There is a need for improved information on exposure risks, particularly in developing countries, to help better understand the burden."

The expert said this would prevent the high rate of such injuries, as well as reduce the number of work hours lost to absenteeism.

Author: Murray Bruce