Back pain is a real … well, pain in the back. Whether it’s dull and achy or sharp and stabbing, chronic or sudden back pain can greatly reduce your quality of life.

Depending on your job, back pain could be the result of an occupational injury. Industries where heavy lifting is a regular duty are prone to causing back pain for employees, but even lower-impact jobs can be a concern.

Three main factors often cause work-related back pain:

  • Force, such as lifting or moving heavy objects
  • Repetitive movements, especially twisting or rotating the spine
  • Inactivity, particularly if you have poor posture or sit in a chair with poor support

Can I avoid back pain?

If your job puts you at a risk for back pain, there are several things you can do to prevent causing an injury:

  • Watch your posture by avoiding slouching, adjusting a chair or computer setup properly and removing objects from your back pocket to avoid extra pressure
  • Lift items with your legs and by tightening your core muscles, and hold items close to your body
  • Don’t twist while lifting and avoid unnecessary twisting, bending and reaching
  • Know your limits – if you need help, ask
  • Find ways to modify your movement with repetitive tasks, such as using lifting devices when available, alternating between physically demanding and lighter tasks, and using speakerphone or a headset

Most of all, listen to your body. If you have pain due to prolonged sitting, get up and walk around or change your position. If heavy lifting duties are causing you grief, take a break.

If you are taking care of your body and your job still causes chronic or sudden back pain, your job may be responsible for any medical care or lost wages you experience as a result. You should not be required to take on the financial burden if your workplace is subjecting you to pain.