Back Injury Prevention
Proper Back Care at Work and Home
Practicing good posture, supporting your back properly, and avoiding heavy lifting can help to prevent back injuries. If you need to lift something heavy, keep your back straight and lift by putting the stress on your legs and hips.
Many work-related injuries are caused or aggravated by stressors such as:
- Heavy lifting
- Repetitive motion
- Awkward posture
- Contact stress (repeated or constant contact between soft body tissue and a hard or sharp object, such as resting a wrist against the edge of a hard desk or repeated tasks using a hammering motion).
Applying ergonomic principles -- designing furniture and tools to protect the body from injury -- at home and in the workplace can greatly reduce the risk of back injury and help maintain a healthy back. More companies and homebuilders are promoting ergonomically designed tools, products, workstations, and living spaces to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury and pain.
The use of wide elastic belts that can be tightened to "pull in" lumbar and abdominal muscles to prevent low back pain remains controversial. A landmark study of the use of lumbar support or abdominal support belts worn by people who lift or move merchandise found no evidence that the belts reduced back injury or back pain.
The two-year study, reported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in December 2000, found no statistically significant difference in either the incidence of workers' compensation claims for job-related back injuries or the incidence of self-reported pain among workers who reported they wore back belts daily, compared to those workers who reported never using back belts or reported using them only once or twice a month.
Although there have been anecdotal case reports of injury reduction among workers using back belts, many companies that have back belt programs also have training and ergonomic awareness programs. The reported injury reduction may be related to a combination of these or other factors.