Low back injury in industry: the value of a recovery program

Conn Med. 1989 Dec;53(12):711-5.


Low back pain is the most frequent chronic disabling condition in the United States in patients younger than 45 years, and it is the second largest cause of employee absenteeism. In this retrospective study involving extreme working conditions at an industrial plant, we found that 20% of all employees incurred a back injury (occupational and nonoccupational) during the 12-month study period, costing more than 5,000 days of work lost, and approximately $920,000. Based on these findings a three-phased program of education/prevention, physical therapy, and an on-site rehabilitation workshop was implemented. After the first operational year, the net saving to the corporation was $255,000, and all employees who participated in the program returned to work within 60 days. We conclude that good job design, employee education on back injury prevention, and immediate on-site rehabilitation for injuries incurred can reduce employee disability and lost work time thus benefiting the employer and employee alike.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Back Pain / economics
  • Back Pain / prevention & control
  • Back Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / economics
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Retrospective Studies