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“Musculoskeletal issues, such as back pain, are more than just a nagging inconvenience. They can have far-reaching impacts on the mental, physical and emotional wellness of employees and their families. They’re also a significant cost to employers. In 2020, 20% of approved short and long-term disability claims were related to musculoskeletal health issues.1 Disabling neck and lower back pain accounted for 43% of these claims.2

Many of these issues are preventable. We strongly encourage employers to put strategies in place to improve workplace musculoskeletal health. These can lower absence and disability costs and greatly improve the health, well-being and productivity of employees.”

- Dave Jones, President, Sun Life Health

Why back health?

Back pain is the leading cause of musculoskeletal (MSK)-related disability claims. It accounts for 30% of all MSK-related long-term disability (LTD) claims. Aside from this, good back health is critical to a quality working life. Maintaining good back health promotes functional mobility, balance and co-ordination, essential for all types of work. It also supports physical and mental fitness, and reduces the risk of other health problems. 

It's important for plan sponsors to invest in the health of their employees. Having a strategy focused on back health could:

  • reduce absenteeism and presenteesim
  • reduce disability claims
  • improve productivity

How to navigate the Musculoskeletal Health Strategy Toolkit

Every workplace has its own unique factors which affect back pain risk for its employees. The nature of the work and type of industry influence these factors. This toolkit will guide you through how to assess and understand the challenges specific to your workplace. This will help you identify targeted actions to reduce and manage risk factors and create a culture of prevention.

We designed this toolkit to be a practical guide for employers. It will explain:

why back health is important
for your business and the health
of your employees

what you can do to prevent
back problems both in
and outside of the workplace


how to address back health
in any size organization


It also includes resources to educate your employees and promote healthy behaviours related to MSK and back health.

Five stages of building a workplace musculoskeletal health strategy

  12020 Sun Life Canada claims data         22020 Sun Life Canada claims data