In many types of jobs, workers must move heavy items several times a day. Just as you want to do what you can to avoid workplace injuries, your employer wants to take steps to avoid losing productivity and manpower.
If your employer requires you to wear a back brace, here are some facts you should know.
Research does not provide solid evidence
There have been studies regarding the effectiveness of lower back braces in the workplace. However, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has determined these studies did not provide conclusive results due to the studies’ limitations. Because the braces may or may not be effective for a worker who has never sustained an injury, NIOSH does not recommend them.
Back braces can lead to injuries
A back brace may not cause an injury, but if you are wearing one, you may be more likely to injure yourself. While wearing the brace, you may feel as if you have better core support, but your lower back muscles are still vulnerable. With the false assurance that you have adequate back protection, you may feel confident in lifting loads beyond your ability to lift safely.
Wearing a back brace also does not guarantee proper lifting form. If you bend at the waist rather than lift with your knees, your risk of lower back strain is just as high with a brace as without.
Injury reduction is a coordinated effort
Your employer should examine the work environment and identify all risk factors and hazards you and other employees face. Knowing these allows the company to reduce or eliminate risk. For example, perhaps workers must lift heavy items from the floor and move them to shelves. The employer may need to create policies requiring teams to lift items over a certain weight or size, provide lifting assistance such as forklifts and train all workers in proper lifting techniques.
It is your responsibility to follow all your employer’s rules, including wearing a back brace if it is a requirement. You may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim after a lower back injury, regardless of how the injury occurred.