Safety and OSHA News

New study confirms impact of low-back pain

A new global study confirms statistics from the U.S. federal government on the prevalence of back pain among workers. 

Research led by the University of Sydney in Australia shows lower back pain suffered while at work accounts for a third of all work-related disability worldwide.

Lower back pain occurs among all ages and jobs, but the people who are most at risk:

  • work in the agriculture sector, and
  • are 35-65 years old.

In 2010, there were nearly 22 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide caused by workplace-related low back pain. (A DALY is calculated from a combination of years of life lost due to premature death and years of life lived with disability.)

Ergonomic factors linked to low back pain are lifting, forceful movement, awkward positions and vibration.

The research was published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. It was part of the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study which assesses ill health and disability in 187 countries.

Ergonomic injuries a pain in the back

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says back injuries made up 41% of ergonomic injury cases, and workers required a median seven days to recuperate.

According to BLS, ergonomic injuries account for 34% of all workplace injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work, with an incidence rate of 38 cases per 10,000 full-time workers.

U.S. workers who suffered ergonomic injuries required a median 12 days to recuperate before returning to work.

Six occupations accounted for more than 25% of ergonomic injuries:

  • laborers and freight, stock and material movers
  • nursing assistants
  • janitors and cleaners
  • heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
  • registered nurses, and
  • maintenance and repair workers.
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  1. I for one am not surprised with this as over 20 years ago I had what seemed to be a minor injury. I was injured off shift because we were working OT to prepare for a survey. The next day I started having spasms on the way in to work. Long story short;

    I was out of work almost a year
    In was told I would be unable to return to work I did return to work
    As time went on I was hospitalized several times and developed brain damage from constant falling and hitting my head.
    In 2000 I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and herniated discs
    I am still on meds therapy and working but it is getting super hard to continue day by day.

    What is not discussed by the article above is just how much of your life is lost from this the restrictions and problems that ongoing pain (24 hours a day) incurs. This includes the bad temper from that overwhelming pain and the frustrations associated with the above. I am reaching the end of my ability to cope and trying to reach retirement before I have to do the misery (the application and implied insults as well as having to prove I am truly having the problem I have been trying to cope with) of getting disability. As a note I am 63 and started working at 15. The above is the second OTJ injury I have had my whole work life the first was a cut on the head that the place I worked treated me for and I made a full recovery.

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