Ironically, healthcare professionals are at higher risk of developing back injuries at work than the majority of the patients that they treat. Many are required to carry or push heavy loads, to spend long periods standing, to bend, stretch or reach to collect medication or prescriptions, or to twist when sitting at their desk to discuss a patient’s symptoms with them.
A study in 2020 by St John & St Elizabeth Hospital in London found that nurses are more likely to experience back pain than the average citizen. Therefore, it is important to consider the ways in which healthcare professionals can reduce the risk of experiencing back pain at work.

1. Safe handling of medication.

Healthcare personnel should attend a safe handling of medication training course to establish good habits for carrying or pushing heavy loads.

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2. DSE assessment.

It is very worthwhile for any healthcare professionals who are required to work at a computer for all or part of their duties to perform regular display screen equipment assessments. This ensures that their workstation is correctly set up and positioned to minimise the risk of reach or twist injuries.

3. Appropriate footwear.

Supportive shoes should be worn at all times, with good arch support or orthotic insoles. This helps to distribute weight, maintaining proper alignment and preventing excessive lateral movement through the lower back and spine.

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Back pain is a significant contributor to lost working time in the UK every year. Therefore, identifying the causes of back pain amongst your workforce and addressing them by eliminating common risks, putting in place appropriate processes and ensuring staff are sufficiently trained and equipped for the work that they do will increase productivity, morale and well-being, contributing to a happier and more effective workforce.

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