Back Pain and the Health and Social Care Sector

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Back Pain and the Health and Social Care Sector


By Chris Jarratt of Bariquins (May 2016)


            Recent conversations have made me recall the stats I came across when carrying out market research during the early days of developing the Bariquin. I found an article reporting that the charity BackCare had carried out an investigation and they had discovered that, each year, over 80,000 nurses injure their backs at work. That’s work-related musculoskeletal disorders or WRMSDs if you want the technical term.  BackCare also learnt that, annually, 3,600 healthcare workers are forced to retire early due to the back pain from their injuries. The total cost of this to the taxpayer was

over £400 Million a year

This could fund 16,000 nurses during the same period.

            That research was reported back in 2011 but it could be that very little has changed. One of my recent chats, two weeks ago, was with a student nurse. She told me that during training, when practising how to manually handle patients, they had used ‘the smallest member of the class as the patient’. That’s fine if it’s a start and it’s built up to bigger and heavier patients during training. Somehow though, I feel that’s the start and the end to it.

            Why do I think that? Well, that’s as a result of another conversation. I was told about a worker in the social care sector being trained in patient handling skills at a hospital. They were using ‘normal’ sized mannequins to train with. During the training, the instructor remarked ‘Don’t get used to this size of patient. You’ll be dealing with much heavier and much bigger people’.

As BackCare's Acting CEO, Sean McDougall, said back in 2011 "Cutbacks in NHS and local authority spending are apparently intended to reduce waste and increase efficiency, yet the biggest single cause of work-related sickness absence in the health and social care sectors is largely preventable through better training and systems of management."


Effects of Back Pain.


            More recently, the Health and Safety Executive produced their report ‘Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorder (WRMSDs) Statistics, Great Britain, 2015’.

Among their main conclusions were

  • An estimated 9,466,000 working days were lost due to WRMSDs, an average of 17.1 days lost for each case.
  • WRMSDs represent 40% of all days lost due to work related ill health in Great Britain in 2014/15.
  • Within the total number of 9,466,000 days lost due to WRMSDs, WRULDs (Work Related Upper Limb Disorders) account for around 43% of days lost at 4,112,000, with back disorders around 31% of days lost at 2,857,000 days and WRLLDs (Work Related Lower Limb Disorders) 25% at 2,396,000 days.

The HSE also reported that health and social care was one of the main types of occupation to show elevated rates of musculoskeletal disorders.


Effects of Better Training.


  • Reduction in staff sickness due to back injuries
  • Less need for provision of cover for staff on sick leave
  • More complex scenarios can be practised
  • New techniques can be devised, designing out any risks involved
  • Complicated removals can be practised before carrying out the actual movement of a real person in an evacuation or other scenario
  • Emergency evacuation drills can be practised
  • Reduced time spent attending incidents due to better training
  • Fewer staff members required to deal with incidents
  • Revenue can be earned by providing training to others
  • Training will reduce the risk of litigation against your organisation






‘Huge cost of back injuries to the NHS’ reported on the National Health Executive website

‘Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorder (WRMSDs) Statistics, Great Britain, 2015’ by the Health and Safety Executive.

Tags: Bariquins, bariatric, Barry, ambulance, emergency, back, pain, plus-size, dummy, plus, size, nhs, health, care, sector, service, health service, health and safety, paramedic, fire, mannequin, manikin, model, plus size, back pain, social, social services, mountain, obese, obesity, fat, rescue



Stockport Business & Innovation Centre, Suite 379, Broadstone Mill, Broadstone Road, Reddish, Stockport SK5 7DL UK

Tel: +44 (0)161 464 6160