When do I need to wear a back support belt?
There are many occupations out there that require bending, lifting, and reaching. Not all of them are created equal. When do I need to wear a back support belt?
Back injuries are some of the most common workplace injuries, accounting for almost 20% of all work-related injuries and costing upwards of 20 billion dollars per year. Back-support belts are one answer to this problem, using ergonomics to offset some of the strain that tends to lead to lower back injuries.
Used as additional support for the lower back muscles when performing strenuous tasks, back-support belts can reduce the risk of injury. Further, back-support belts improve posture and can help individuals who have previously sustained low back injuries by offering additional support to weakened muscles (reduce the risk of lifting injuries with Safe Lifting: Use Your Brain, Not Your Back).
From nursing home workers to manufacturing and construction jobs, back-support belts can provide additional support when repeatedly performing tasks that can stress the lower back muscles. A 1998 study showed a 33% reduction in low back injuries when back-support belts were introduced to nursing home employees. Similar results have been noted in grocery stores and in the poultry industry where workers spend long periods of time on their feet.
Just remember, back-support belts do not increase your lifting capacity or act as a substitute for proper lifting mechanics and team lifting (learn more about proper lifting in Back Safety and Lifting Techniques). Back-support belts are an additional level of protection but they do not completely eliminate the risk of injury if workers do not observe other best practices. As with any equipment, proper training should be administered so that employees know how to effectively use the belts .