Back braces and lifting belts

Sometimes doctors or other qualified people prescribe these to assist people recovering from injury.

However, there is no evidence that these devices prevent injury. The evidence on back belts or braces is that these:

  1. Do not reduce the forces on the spine
  2. Do not reduce the strain on muscles, tendons and ligaments
  3. Do nothing to reduce fatigue or to increase the ability to lift
  4. Are like holding your breath when lifting
  5. Can increase blood pressure and breathing rate
  6. Do not reduce the chance of injury or reduce back pain
  7. Can, however, be useful after an injury

In other words, such devices may produce a feeling of false security, leading to injury. WorkSafe Victoria has produced a Guidance Note: Back belts are not effective in reducing back injuries which provides more detailed information on the above points.

Once having identified manual handling as an OHS issue, using Body Mapping for example, OHS reps need to tackle the causes of injury. The most effective way to prevent injury is to concentrate on changing the workplace. The law requires the employer to control any risk of manual handling injuries at the source, changing either the workplace, the system of work or the objects being handled. Do not accept back belts as a method of reducing back injuries for workers.

See Also:

Last amended June 2015