If you have ever experienced lower back fatigue or discomfort, you are not alone. Nearly everyone at some point has back pain that interferes with work, routine daily activities, or recreation.
Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the US, only headache is more common. Most lower back injuries are mechanical in nature, the result of acute strain or chronic disorders such as degenerative disc disease or arthritis. Acute low back discomfort may be caused by work factors, a sports injury, work around the house, a sudden jolt such as a car accident or other lifestyle factors. Fortunately, most occurrences of low back discomfort go away within a matter of days. By far, the best way to manage low back fatigue and discomfort is to PREVENT it in the first place!
Potential MSDs of the Lower Back
- degenerative disc disease
- fatigue strains (muscle or tendon) and sprains (ligaments)
Low back injuries can be prevented! There are a number of things we can do to decrease the risk of lower back fatigue and discomfort for team members.
- Follow Ergonomic Design Principles
- Educate and Train Team Members
- Recognize and Report Early Signs of MSDs
1. Ergonomic Design Principles
Ergonomics is the science of fitting the work to the worker, making sure jobs and tasks are within the worker’s capabilities and limitations. It’s part of your company’s commitment to provide a safe workplace.
A systematic ergonomics improvement process reduces injury risk, improves work performance and efficiently builds a better end product.
Ergonomic Design Principles for Low Back Injury Prevention:
- Avoid repeated lifting that requires excessive forward bending
- Avoid sustained forward bending
2. Educate and Train Team Members
Poor work practices, a poor health profile and no recognition of early signs and symptoms by team members contribute to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Implement a comprehensive Workplace Athletics process to control risk factors related to individual team members and enhance human performance.
- A good pre-shift stretching program will help increase circulation and elasticity of the muscles and tendons.
- Team members should be educated regarding proper lifting techniques to reduce stress on the lower back.
- Team members should also be trained and motivated to perform specific stretches to counteract tightness and compression in the low back.
- Team members should be encouraged and motivated to adopt good health habits and keep their body fit for work.
3. Recognize and Report Early Signs of MSDs
At the first signs of excessive fatigue and discomfort, team members should be trained to recognize it and strongly encouraged to report it. When an early report is received, an on-location preventative health care professional should conduct a one-on-one early intervention consultation to identify the root causes and help the team member utilize injury prevention best practices.