Sickness absence - work related causes - back pain

Information on Occupational Back Pain

Back pain is currently the largest reported reason for sickness absence in the UK. The employer has an important role in helping employees with back pain to return to work, and to reduce the risk of further episodes of back pain. This page contains:

  1. Suggested steps
  2. Useful links to further information
  3. Other useful references or other resources

Suggested steps:

  1. Encourage early reporting of back pain, and monitor trends in absence from back pain to identify which work groups are most at risk.
  2. Establish contact with the employee at an early stage, to ensure that they have access to appropriate advice and support from their GP, and where available Occupational Health service and therapists such as physiotherapy.
  3. Try to facilitate a return to work by making temporary adjustments to the work role or place of work.
  4. Investigate injuries which occurred at work, and where appropriate review risk assessment and risk management strategies.
  5. Ensure you are complying with relevant legislation. The HSE has developed an online Manual Handling Assessment Chart (MAC) Tool to assist you in this process (see
  6. Provide appropriate information and training on safe movement and handling activities.
  7. Ensure you are complying with relevant legislation.
  8. Provide information on fitness and healthy lifestyles, and encourage employees and their representatives to work with you to reduce the effect of back pain at work.

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Useful links

For further information on back pain and related problems:

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Other resources

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