Belt to Prevent Back Pain at Work | Safety in the Workplace
Another back belt? Didn’t we already go through that scenario and find that they were almost worthless? Yes, we did, but those were lumbar belts, which function under a completely different concept than sacroiliac belts. Please continue reading.
1. Takes the place of muscles, allowing atrophy.
2. Increases pressure in the abdominal cavity.
3. Does not reduce muscle spasm.
4. Disc injuries occur in small proportion of low back injuries.
5. The lumbar disc is relatively stable during bending, twisting, and lifting compared to SIJ.
6. Lumbar belts are bulky, hot, uncomfortable, and restrict movement.
7. Should be worn only while lifting.
8. Does not increase muscle strength.
1. Takes the place of ligaments, enhancing mobility.
2. Designed to support and stabilize the Sacroiliac Joint (SIJ).
3. Reduces muscle spasm.
4. Research has found the SIJ to be the main cause of pain in the majority of low back injuries.
5. The SIJ is 20X more susceptible to compression and 2X as susceptible to torsion as lumbar discs.
6. The Serola Belt is small, comfortable, and allows freedom of movement without restrictions.
7. Can be worn all day with no adverse effects.
8. The Serola Belt increases strength throughout the body, especially the trunk, upper legs, and arms.
The major study that promoted lumbar belts was done at a home improvement chain in which thousands of workers wore lumbar belts for an extended period of time.
Reduction of Acute Low Back Injuries by Use of Back Supports
However, Kraus, the lead author of the study, said that mandatory implementation of a back-support-use policy significantly reduces the incidence of acute low back injuries but he did not address the severity of the injuries nor the cost effectiveness of the belts.
Study provides new evidence of back belts' effectiveness
This study was basically a review of the above study by Kraus, et al. They pointed out that a major new study at Home Depot stores showed a 34% reduction in low back injuries when using a back belt. However, that doesn't tell the whole story. The key point to note is that while they reported a reduction in the number of injuries, the injuries were more severe and costs were significantly higher. Back belt manufacturers hailed this study as proof that back supports are effective personal protective equipment - a contention at odds with the position of NIOSH. None of the authors in the Kraus study were listed in this study and vice versa. This study was simply a biased review of the original study and was promoted to sell belts.
Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of employer-issued back belts in areas of high risk for back injury
Here is the kicker. Data suggest that back belts appear to be minimally effective in preventing injury. However, overall costs of injury while wearing lumbar belts were substantially higher than if injured without belts ($373,250 with vs $235,980 without, per 1000 workers). So, although back belts led to a smaller number of injuries, the injuries of those with belts were more significant and led to greater expense. This study went ignored by the back belt manufacturers.
Use of back belts in occupational settings
This study found that there is potential for increasing the degree of low back injury, and lost work days, with general application of back belts even after the worker stops using the belt.