Date Published: 18 October 2005

Back pain at work

Workers tied to desk for 97 mins on average before taking a break

In an online poll of 1905 British workers aged over 18, more than 70% say they have experienced pain in their back, neck or upper limbs as a result of sitting at their desk

New statistics on the incidence of back pain among workers have been released today (17 October) by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), along with advice on preventing bad backs to mark National Back

While physiotherapists recommend people take a break from their workstations every 20 mins, the poll, carried out by YouGov for the CSP, shows that most respondents are chained to their desks for 97 minutes or more at a time - about five times longer than suggested, and 23% do not get up for a quick break for three hours or more.

New leaflet 'Fit to Work'

Help on how to avoid common work-related aches and pains is now available from the CSP in a new leaflet entitled Fit to Work and exercises recommended by chartered physiotherapists. CSP Chair of Council Sarah Bazin says:

" Back pain is still rife in the workplace, resulting in sickness absence and reduced performance. Many cases could easily be prevented, which would save money for businesses."

Physiotherapists know that back pain and other work-related upper-limb disorders can become debilitating if left untreated. Physiotherapists are best placed to advise employees and employers on how they can be avoided.

Staying active is key to preventing back pain and aiding recovery. With more and more of us in sedentary occupations, it is vital that employers and the government prioritise the health of the workforce by investing in thorough risk assessments and swift access to rehabilitation services. The latest figures indicate that almost 5 million working days were lost through bad backs in 2003/4. On average each sufferer took about 20 days off

For a free copy of the leaflet, send a stamped self-addressed envelope to 'Fit to Work', The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, 14 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4ED.

Source: The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, http://www.csp.org.uk.

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