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Back Care Awareness Week – Risks to Home Workers

Back Care Awareness Week – Risks to Home Workers
07 October 2021

Most of us have probably been guilty of working in unusual places over the last eighteen months, but is your sofa desk contributing to your back pain?

In 2019-20 the Labour Force Survey found that 8.9 million working days were lost due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders, with 480,000 workers suffering from injuries, of which 37% were linked to the back.

And it seems that working from beds and dining tables is contributing to a rise in work-related musculoskeletal cases.

In The Homeworking Impact Code, just over 28 per cent of UK employees admitted to operating from a non-work specific home location. Working from an inappropriate and unprofessional set-up such as slouching over a dining table, can cause neck, back, and hip pain.


Keyboard Work a Culprit


Data collected by health and safety consultancy film Arinite found that keyboard work is the third biggest cause of work-related musculoskeletal conditions, causing 11.3 per cent of cases.

They have also revealed that one in three office workers haven’t received any support/advice/kit from their employer for homeworking. The results conclude that those working from home aren’t getting enough support to cope with the physical change in their day-to-day work environment.

More than a quarter (28.1 per cent) of UK employees reported operating from a non-work specific home location, such as a bed, sofa or dining table. 81 per cent of employees working remotely during lockdown experienced back, neck, or shoulder pain. 


Back Pain and Mental Health


Alex Minett, Head of Products & Markets at CHAS, highlights the link between chronic back pain and mental health:

“Back pain is an extremely common condition. Although it usually improves within weeks, the disruption to businesses and workforces can be significant, particularly when there is a high risk the problem can return.

“Unrelenting back pain can lead to poor sleeping and eating habits, interrupt physical activity and all of the other activities that contribute to positive emotional wellbeing.

“Stress from suffering with pain can often exacerbate the physical symptoms, and so it becomes a vicious circle. GP’s will often suggest psychological therapy for depression in addition to other treatments for back pain.”


Legal Duties for Employers


Some HSE regulations are particularly relevant to dealing with back pain in the workplace.

As an employer, you must protect your workers from the health risks of working with display screen equipment, which may exacerbate or be the culprit for employee back pain. Incorrect use of DSE or poorly designed workstations or work environments can lead to pain in necks, shoulders, backs, arms, wrists and hands as well as fatigue and eye strain.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations apply to workers who use DSE daily, for an hour or more at a time.

By law, employers must:



The law still applies if employees are mobile workers, home workers or use hot-desks.

Picture: a photograph of a person holding their lower back, as if in pain. The image is black and white, but the lower back is highlighted in red.

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 07 October 2021


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