Two tips to follow if you've sustained a back injury at work

If you've injured your back at work (by, for example, lifting something that was too heavy), here are some tips to follow.

Ask to be referred to one of the local occupational health and rehabilitation services

In this situation, you should contact your employer and find out if they can refer you to one of the local occupational health and rehabilitation services in the area. When people are injured in their workplaces, their employers will sometimes agree to cover the cost of receiving the medical care they need to recover from that injury.

If your employer offers to do this, you should take them up on it. At an occupational and rehabilitation centre, you will probably have your back assessed (the nature of this assessment will depend on the type of back injury you have, but might include a CT scan, to check your spine and see if you have, for example, a herniated disc). Then, you may be provided with treatment, in the form of perhaps some remedial massage, physiotherapy and prescribed medication.

Additionally, you might be provided with guidance on how to protect your back whilst you're recovering; for example, if you were injured whilst lifting boxes at work, the occupational therapist might advise you (and notify your employer) that you cannot do this activity whilst you're recovering.

Using this service could hasten your recovery, make the recovery itself less painful and ensure that you do not unintentionally make your back issue worse by partaking in activities that make it vulnerable to further injuries.

Talk to your employer about changes you need to make to the way that you work 

After receiving treatment from occupational health therapists, physiotherapists and other medical professionals, you should have a discussion with your employer about any changes you need to make to the way that you work so that you can avoid being injured like this again.

For example, if the boxes you were expected to lift at work in the past are too heavy to be lifted manually, you might want to ask your employer to consider providing you with a forklift (as well as the training you would need to safely use it) so that you could move these boxes without hurting your back. Alternatively, if you think you may have made an error when lifting the boxes, you might want to ask them to provide more in-depth training on safe manual lifting practices. If your employer paid for your treatment at the occupational health and rehabilitation centre, then they may be motivated to agree to your suggestions, as by doing so they would be able to avoid having to incur these medical bills again in the future.