Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C.

Do back belts actually prevent back injuries?

Does your employer require you to wear a back belt when lifting or moving heavier objects? Do you wear one because you feel it helps prevent injury to your back? Back injuries are a very common injury in the workplace. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), almost 20 percent of workplace injuries are back injuries. In an effort to help determine ways to prevent back injuries, NIOSH wanted to know if back belts actually helped prevent back injuries.

After NIOSH reviewed scientific literature, they determined that there was simply not enough studies to say one way or another if back belts reduced back injuries. As a result, NIOSH doesn't recommend using back belts to prevent back injuries for workers who haven't had a back injury before.

One thing that NIOSH did not address, though, is using the back belt as a form of medical treatment to rehab after a back injury. This is because the agency's primary focus within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to prevent injuries.

So what does NIOSH recommend that workers rely on to prevent back injuries? A program dedicated to ergonomics. It is more effective to train personnel in safe lifting techniques and identifying the hazards of lifting improperly. In addition, redesigning the workplace environment and tasks so that the hazards of lifting are reduced will help prevent back injuries.

If you have suffered a back injury while on-the-job, you have a right to workers' compensation. An experienced attorney can provide more information on so that you can better understand workers' compensation claims and benefits.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Back Belts--Do They Prevent Injury?," accessed May 12, 2017

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