Sun Life’s got your back – and the backs of your workforce

How to build a health strategy to prevent workplace musculoskeletal injuries and disorders

Sun Life’s got your back – and the backs of your workforce

This article was provided by Sun Life.

There’s nothing new or glamorous about back pain. It rarely grabs health headlines and is typically “out of sight, out of mind” when we are pain free.

But the truth is that back pain, and other musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders, impact millions of Canadians each year. This not only causes pain and distress for individuals – it also creates an enormous cost for employers.

The good news is that employers can help improve employee back health and reduce absence, disability and productivity costs. And our free Musculoskeletal Health Strategy Toolkit is a great place to start.

The workplace impact of back pain

In 2020, 20% of Sun Life’s short- and long-term disability claims were due to musculoskeletal health issues. This is an umbrella term for injuries and disorders of muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and nerves. It’s not specific to your back, but back pain is the leading cause of MSK-related disability claims.

Disabling neck and lower back pain accounted for 43% of such claims.

We work with clients in many industries across the country who are concerned about these injuries and disorders in their workforces. Some occupations most affected are health care, labourers, machine operators, and clerical workers, but back pain can have an impact on any type of workplace. Any employee who lifts, stands, sits, or repeats movements can be at risk.

Build a strategy that’s specific to your workplace

The initial focus of the Musculoskeletal Health Strategy Toolkit is on back pain, as that’s where the need is greatest. But it’s important to recognize that it’s not a “one-size-fits-all” approach: every workplace has its own unique factors that affect back pain risk for its employees.

The toolkit will guide you through assessing and understanding the challenges specific to your workplace and helps you identify targeted actions to reduce and manage risk factors and create a culture of prevention. Specifically, the toolkit can help you:

  • Identify opportunities to improve workplace MSK, with a data-driven approach. This can involve surveys, and analysis of claims data, and a review of workplace policies, for example.
  • Set the priorities and objectives of your strategy to have the greatest impact. You’ll want to align your strategy with organizational goals and objectives. The toolkit provides a sample MSK health strategy template that’s an excellent guide.
  • Take action. This could start with education and awareness campaigns, or it might involve training for employees and leaders on ergonomics, prevention steps, and early warning signs of injury. In addition, some employers might consider alternative accommodation and return to work policies.
  • Measure your success. The toolkit provides tips and resources for evaluating your progress.

We’ve got your back

MSK pain is more than a nagging, painful inconvenience – it’s a huge cost to employers. No matter your organization’s size, our Musculoskeletal Health Strategy Toolkit can help you improve health outcomes for employees. We’ve got your back, so you can have your employees’.

Group Benefits are provided by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, a member of the Sun Life group of companies.

Latest stories