A back injury can be a life changing event that affects your ability to find a job and manage in the workplace.
The prospect of returning to work, or a new career can be overwhelming, especially if you have been working in one career for your whole life.
However, getting back to work may not be as difficult as it seems. There are employers and workplaces out there with jobs that can support you to do your best work which is within your physical limits.
In fact, getting back to work can help you be better off financially, give you a sense of purpose and rebuild your self-confidence.
Figuring out what type of jobs are right for you
What are your physical limitations?
Back injuries can affect people differently. While some people may be able to return to their previous job after rehabilitation, others experience ongoing pain and mobility issues that make working in the same role impossible.
Physically demanding jobs such as construction and plumbing can aggravate symptoms. Similarly, standing or sitting for long periods of time can be very painful. Consider your limitations and look for jobs that are less physically demanding on your body.
Can you transfer your skills?
In some cases, you may not need to change career direction completely. Suddenly being forced to find a new job because of a back injury can feel daunting. However, the skills, knowledge and experience you picked up in your previous jobs may be transferable to a new job.
For example, if you worked as a gardener, you may no longer be able to perform the physical tasks required. However you could use your knowledge to be an excellent retail worker or member of the marketing team for a nursery or gardening shop.
You could be eligible for workplace adjustments
Workplace modifications can make your job easier and help you feel more confident in your role. This could include things like a standing desk, an ergonomic chair, flexible work hours or days off for appointments.
APM’s WorkAssist and Disability Employment Service program are government-funded which means you could access workplace support at no cost to you or your employer.
Job ideas for people with back injury
Blogger / writer
Writing jobs can often be done from home with a flexible schedule. This may be a good choice if you find it challenging to maintain a typical 9-5 work week. If you have specialised knowledge or experience from your previous job, this could be an advantage as a writer.
Teacher / tutor
If you are unable to return to your previous job, you may be able to pass on your knowledge and expertise as a teacher or lecturer. Teaching roles usually involve a mix of sitting and standing tasks and have longer term breaks over the holiday periods.
Traditional office jobs may place strain on your back because of long periods of sitting down. However, more modern office environments allow for flexible arrangements. An adjustable or standing desk, regular breaks and an understanding work culture can make office jobs a good choice for people with back pain.
You may have experience and knowledge from your previous role that you can transfer to a marketing job. Marketers help promote businesses or products. For example, if you previously worked as a mechanic you could use your industry knowledge to market a mechanical workshop.
If you have a passion for helping others, a job as a carer could be a good fit for you. When a back injury left Jeff unable to work as a labourer – a job he’d had for 40 years – he was unsure how he’d get back to work.
After registering with APM, Jeff’s employment consultant helped him find work with an aged care provider. His role involves helping elderly clients with housekeeping and taking them out for social outings. Jeff says his new job 'gives me a purpose and a reason to get out of bed.'
Need support getting back to work after a back injury? APM can help.
You could be eligible for support from APM’s Disability Employment Services program. We help people living with injury, illness or disability find meaningful work and thrive in their new job.
Whether you are finding it hard to return to the workforce or your current job isn’t working for you, we are here for you. We believe everyone has the right to experience the benefits of work.
Register today and let’s get to work.