Use of Back Belts

The use of back belts to prevent injury has been disputed for several years and no scientific studies had been conducted until fairly recently. In December, 2000, the Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of a thorough study in which they concluded that back belts did not reduce back injury claims or complaints of lower back pain. Prior to this report the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) expressed concerns about back belts in their 1996 publication, Back Belts - Do They Prevent Injury? This publication listed the following points of concern.

  • There is a lack of scientific evidence that back belts work.
     
  • Workers wearing back belts may attempt to lift more weight than they would have without a belt. A false sense of security may subject workers to greater risk of injury.
     
  • Workers and employers should redesign the work environment and work tasks to reduce lifting hazards, rather than rely solely on back belts to prevent injury.
     

The best method to prevent back injury is for the worker to understand the movements which are dangerous and how to mitigate the hazard by employing proper lifting technique. All employees who are at risk of back injury should attend an ergonomics/back safety training class to prevent these types of injuries.