Use of Back Belts – Assignment Example

Case Study Back Belts Case Study Back Belts Brief Introduction of the Topic As the safety manager at a production manufacturing facility, the plant manager required addressing the significantly high number of recordable and reportable back injuries in the warehouse and production areas in the past year and a half. To enable one to prepare the needed evaluation and report, an extensive research on back belts and their use in potentially preventing back injuries would be delved into to include a discourse on the subject from at least one manufacturer of back belts, and from the information provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The report would hereby include the use of back belts and their effectiveness in preventing back injuries.
Background Information from One Manufacturer of Back Belts
One of the manufacturers of back belts, the Core Products International, Inc., markets back belts through the brand Corfit Belt Industrial Back Belt 7500 (Core Products Industrial, Inc., 2012). Price ranged from $39.75 to $52.32 and its full product description includes the following explanation, to wit:
“When you do a lot of heavy lifting or have a back injury, you may already know the importance of protecting your back with an industrial belt…When your belt fits correctly, it delivers lumbosacral back support that helps prevent and relieve lower back pain resulting from muscle strain and spasms.” (Core Products Industrial, Inc., 2012, p. 1).
Background Information from NIOSH
Back belt is defined as “a stiff, 15–20-cm wide belt worn around the waists of those who lift heavy loads as part of their usual employment activities or during participation in certain sports” (Segens Medical Dictionary, 2012, par. 1). A study on back belts by the NIOSH (2012) indicate that although the use of back belts have been proposed to prevent back injuries in the work setting “there is insufficient scientific evidence that they actually deliver what is promised” (NIOSH, n.d., par. 7). The reasons for the lack of sufficient support were disclosed to include: “few studies on the association between workplace use of back belts and injuries… (and) much of the existing research is based on theories of what causes back injury, rather than on the actual rates of workplace injury with and without back belt use” (NIOSH, n.d., par. 10).
Analysis of Key Points and Response to Questions
Given the information gathered, the following responses to the key questions are hereby addressed:
1. Would you recommend the use of back belts and under what circumstances as part of your overall approach to the problem at your plant?
From the professional advice of NIOSH on the subject of using back belts to prevent back injuries in the work setting, I would not recommend its use due to lack of sufficient evidence on its complete effectiveness. As recommended by NIOSH, “the most effective way to prevent back injury is to implement an ergonomics program that focuses on redesigning the work environment and work tasks to reduce the hazards of lifting” (NIOSH, n.d., par. 2).
2. Are there any requirements or instances where you would not permit the use of these devices?
From review of the discourse presented by NIOSH, inasmuch as little evidence was provided regarding back belts’ effectiveness in preventing back injuries, workers who could have been made to believe of their supposed support could have been more at risk at sustaining back injuries. As disclosed, “there is some research showing that workers believe they can lift more when wearing a back belt. If workers falsely believe they are protected, they may subject themselves to even greater risk by lifting more weight than they would have without a belt” (NIOSH, n.d., par. 24).
3. What other materials/programs/training would you use to supplement the use, or non-use of back belts?
To supplement the use (or non-use of back belts) a “comprehensive ergonomics program that strives to protect all workers (must be implemented). The most effective way to prevent back injury is to redesign the work environment and work tasks to reduce the hazards of lifting. Training in identifying lifting hazards and using safe lifting techniques and methods should improve program effectiveness” (NIOSH, n.d., par. 25).
Summary of Conclusions and Personal Opinions
The results of the research on the subject of using back belts for preventing back injuries have indicated that there is insufficient evidence to attest its effectiveness. Employers or employees who opt to consider using this could actually do so on a voluntary basis (NIOSH, n.d.). Therefore, to address back injuries in the work setting, a closer review of the work environment and work tasks need to be undertaken to determine the root causes of the accidents and injuries and to accurately design an ergonomics program that would address these back injuries.
One strongly believes that this is the most viable and reliable option, rather than relying on a product that has been proven to lack sufficient evidence in effectively preventing back injuries. The organization could seek the assistance of NIOSH in this regard.
References
Core Products Industrial, Inc. (2012). Corfit Belt Industrial Back Belt 7500. Retrieved August 5, 2012, from coreproducts.com: http://www.coreproducts.com/corfit-belt-industrial-back-belt-7500.html
NIOSH. (n.d.). BACK BELTS--Do They Prevent Injury? Retrieved August 5, 2012, from cdc.gov: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/94-127/
Segens Medical Dictionary. (2012). Back Belt. Retrieved August 5, 2012, from medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com: http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Back+Belt