A weird problem, any advice?

I have problems with back pain that have gotten worse as I've put on weight. I used to only have pains after a hard days work, now every day is like a hard day. It wasn't so bad until this last week when I had a really stupid problem at work.

Long story short, my boss doesn't want me working at a desk any more, I have to work on a stool and it's really uncomfortable and its making my back hurt a lot. There isn't much point arguing here, he's actually a bit unhinged and I'm genuinely worried for his mental health at the moment but that's not even my business so I'm not even going to touch on that. Point is I'm working like this for now for no reason other than to upset me and some other people I work with. This is just making things worse for me because I can't even do weight lifting at home and that was about the only exercise I was getting.

So what would you do? It's more or less just a few of us, he doesn't care about the rest of the staff, so we could demand it in writing but kicking up a stink is probably going to get us sacked one way or another and I can't afford the time out of work. I'd rather just be able to work at the bench and not be in pain all day. Do I have any right to somewhere to do my work without it making my back worse? Has anyone here got over back pain with exercises or something like that?

25 Replies

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  • Have you talked to the union ( if your company has one) about this issue and about your boss issues?

  • We haven't got a union and the attitude at work is just do as you're told and ignore that madness, it must be kind of like when King George was going insane haha! I'm not expecting to fix the problem, just my back. Hopefully....

  • You should try to get maybe a chair and bring it in from your home.

  • That's what we had until we were told we aren't allowed last week.

  • Do you have OSHA?

  • Maybe but I'm not sure what that is haha! Occupational safety and health adviser?

  • Yep! We have it in the USA. Do you have something like that out by you?

  • If I kick up any fuss I'm just more likely to get forced out. Whether I'm in the right or not.

  • Sounds like what happened to a very good friend of mine. He got let go because he and our Director didn't see eye to eye on some issues and she ended up letting him go. He and I keep in touch all the time.

  • Hi Jay, is you GP any help? Could you get a doctors note to say you need a better seat etc? Are you working with computers? Have you had a DSE?

    I suffer with chronic back pain and have a scoliosis so can appreciate a bit of what you are going through. I have to say that the walking I am doing is really helping. OK, so the first few weeks were pretty rough but when I go past that things have improved.

    You could also try some yoga - it is great for strengthening the back.

    Good luck :)

  • I never thought of yoga, I might try that but I don't have much space at home. And I haven't been to my GP in a few years and I don't want to, its usually a pain to get time off to go there and usually nothing ends up getting done so I've kind of lost faith.

  • You shouldn't worry about work. Take care of yourself first and the rest will be okay. If you don't take care of yourself, how can you do your job?? I'm sort of the same way with my job and health, but I usually do take the time off if I can't help it. I had to go to see a few eye doctors this year and that took some time away from work. I have to go again in January of 2016 and see what this one eye doctor says about the Diabetic Retinopathy. I'm hoping it isn't worse as before or I have to come back more than once a year after this coming January. I'm nervous about this. Doctor says that if things stayed the same or are better than before, I don't have to come back after this appointment until 2017 in Jan..

  • Hope it goes well! And you're right, I guess I just don't want to risk my job.

  • I understand about risking one's job, but you come first.

  • There are h and s rules about height of desk and chairs ...this is set out in work place protocols. Also research is that standing at a desk is healthier for your back than sitting at a desk...GP s are being encouraged to do consultations standing up...sitting for more than 29 mins at a time is bad for everyone ...bad back or not...

    So off the wall suggestion...could you have a standing desk? Your boss might like a research based argument....and go for it himself. My friend uses a special ball to sit on at work...suggested by the specialist...rambling now

  • Hi! I can't believe this is even going on in the work place in this day and age!! What is the reasoning behind you having to sit in a bench? How long is it for a day and how many breaks do you get? You should never feel you could loose your job if you were going to say something! If you do get 'pushed out' take them to a tribunal! HR law wasn't put in place for fun, it is there to be abided by!!! Also how much water do you drink I find that helps with back pain xx

  • I never thought of water, but yeah I can try to drink more! And I might win in a tribunal if I did get pushed out but it's more like making the job so horrible that nobody wants to stay. The reasoning was we look lazy in chairs. Ironically less is getting done. I'm stood today so it's better I'm just annoyed haha.

  • This reminds me of an ex-boss I had years ago.

  • He can`t sack all of you surely, so if you alll stuck together. ? You would have a good case to take to Tribunal if he dismissed you.

    Think of this from his angle, is he going through some sort of breakdown, as he must realise happy staff is paramount to a succcessful business.

    You don`t have to be confrontational, but if you tried to explain that you all want a good happy workplace... it would be beneficial to everyone- boss and employees.

    At worst, I would look elsewhere as your health is vital.

  • I don't think he's really interested in happy employees, he thinks if people are happy then they aren't working hard enough (not making this up btw haha). And yeah I don't know what he's thinking.

  • Workers are also responsible for ensuring their own health and safety, check out this website: citizensadvice.org.uk/work/...

    To allow these types of work practices is irresponsible. You have a duty to yourself and others to do something about it.

    Good luck.

  • Thank you everyone for your advice here! My back is still aching but I have been standing more and it's actually helped a great deal, even though I thought the worst the whole thing is working out ok! And given all the advice and looking into things we have decided to just sit wherever is comfortable regardless because the whole thing is silly and unenforceable. Hopefully that's the end of it!

  • I just saw this - glad you have all managed to go back to sitting on comfortable seats again. Good luck :)

  • I would start looking for a new job, getting the ball rolling now will make it easier if the job becomes too unbearable or if you are pushed out. I've had irrational bosses like this too, and I totally understand that in some jobs you just have no back up if things go wrong. Your colleagues in that sort of job are often likely to be more into looking out for themselves than sticking together in a principled way, so don't rely on others to stand up for you if your back pain gets worse. Although Sueper's suggestion about getting a doctor's letter is a good one - you could have this as backup if you do get the opportunity to really assert your position on it (maybe ask anyone else with backpain to get a similar letter too?)

    In the meantime, I've been doing these exercises for my back, and they are definitely helping. nhs.uk/Livewell/Backpain/Pa... Also, is your stool adjustable - can you make it higher? This might help. If not, can you raise the level of what you're working on, so you are keeping your posture as straight as possible? Also, can you use a footstool (improvise - a box or anything). There may be ways to make the stool more comfortable at least. Lots of luck! :)

  • Thank you I will look at the exercises! Anything to make it easier! :-)

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