Back Belts & Back Support giving you
extra strength where it's needed
By: The Working Man
Back Belts are also called abdominal belts and back supports.
There are many types of back belts available, but the name has
come to primarily mean an elastic, fairly wide but lightweight
belt that is worn around the waist and covering the lower back.
Back belts are designed to provide extra back support and improve
posture during high stress activities such as heavy lifting or
There is much controversy as to whether back belts are PPE, or
whether they are even beneficial. The US National Institute for
Occupational Safety and Health concluded in 1994 that there was
not enough scientific evidence that back belts help to reduce
back injuries and so they could not be considered personal
But eventually OSHA decided that "...back belts may have
protective effects in certain industrial settings, such as
sudden, unexpected loading of the spine," and decided not to
prohibit classifying back belts as personal protective equipment
in their new rule on ergonomics.
Some studies have concluded that wearing back belts can be
harmful to uninjured workers. A 1996 study concluded that wearing
a back belt raised the blood pressure of the twenty "healthy
male" study participants and so strained the cardiovascular
system. Another study concluded that universal prescription of
back belts did not statistically reduce the numbers of back
injuries in nursing, dietary, and environmental services workers.
Other studies have shown lower numbers of injuries in back belt
wearers, but most caution that back belts cannot be relied on as
the only form of personal protective equipment but must be used
in combination with good ergonomic conditions and tools.
After much review of the plentiful reports and research on the
use of back belts, OSHA decided that "back belts may have
protective effects in certain industrial settings, such as sudden
unexpected loading of the spine" and consequently back belts must
be accepted as Personal Protective Equipment.
The fact that back belts have been approved to be used as
personal protective equipment means that in the USA employers
must provide them to workers at no cost if the employer chooses
to provide them at all. The standard allows employers to use PPE
such as back belts to supplement other controls (engineering,
work practice, administrative), but by OSHA rules PPE, including
back belts, cannot be used alone if other controls are feasible.
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