Back Supports

Do back belts prevent injuries? It may surprise you to learn that there is a lack of scientific evidence to support the use of back belts in the work place.

Back injuries account for 30% of work injuries and illnesses. They cost between $20 and $50 billion a year. Back belts have seen an increase in use in the workplace due to the outrageous cost of back injuries. However, OSHA does not recognize them as an effective engineering control to prevent back injuries. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) does not recommend the use of back belts for injury prevention.

Several claims for the use of back belts argue that they reduce forces on the spine when lifting, stiffen the spine, restrict bending, remind the wearer to lift properly, and reduce injury, but they have not been proven. There has only recently been an increase in the use of back belts in the workplace, so adequate research has yet to be conducted.

While there is no proof for the opposite side of the debate that states that using a back belt will increase the chance for injury NIOSH is concerned with a false sense of security while wearing a back support. Some workers may think they can lift more weight when wearing a back belt versus when they are not wearing one. The best approach that is recommended is the implementation of a good ergonomics program. If you feel you need a back belt at work, you need to prioritize ergonomic concerns above anything else.

See the following article for more details on the varying assumptions made regarding back belts and their influence on back injuries:  Back Supports

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