Back Belts

Navy Back Belt Policy

Giving Back Strains & Sprains the SLIP

Do you know that the most common work injury is also the one you can most easily prevent? Injuries to the lower back affect half the nation’s work force at some time during their working lives. You may think you’re in a job that is not prone to back injuries, but take a second look. If your job involves any lifting, you could be at risk. Back injuries usually result from mistakes made in lifting things. The good news is that you can take steps to avoid becoming a statistic - even without the help of special equipment. There has been much controversy on the use of such equipment like back support belts. Five years ago they were all the rage and several industries including the Military invested thousands of dollars providing them for their employees. After years of studies statistics show that the use of back support belts did not lower the number or severity of back injuries. And in some cases it may have contributed to injuries because they provided a false sense of security to employees who then would lift heavier loads that they were not physically capable of lifting.

In 1997 the office of the Under Secretary of Defense has sent forth a Memorandum to all DOD agencies regarding Ergonomics and Back Injury Prevention Programs. The official policy is: "DOD does not recognize back support belts or wrist splints as personal protective equipment, or support the use of these devices in the prevention of back or wrist injuries. These devices are considered medical appliances, and may be prescribed by a credentialed health care provider who will assume responsibility for medical clearance, proper fit of the device, and treatment monitoring and supervision." NPS is no longer to provide back supports to employees. If an employee feels they are in need of such a support they should consult their private health care provider.

Here are some tips on preventing back strains and sprains.

Can You Really Lift It?
Before you pickup that carton or load, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this too heavy for me to lift and carry alone?
  • How high do I have to lift it? How far do I have to carry it?
  • Will this lifting be a regular part of my job?
  • Am I trying to impress anyone by lifting this?

Lifting from Your Chair
If you need to reach something that has fallen off your desk while you are working, you may be tempted to lean over from your chair to pick it up. Don’t do it. Bending from a seated position and coming back up places tremendous strain on your back. Also, your chair could be unstable and slip out from under you. Instead stand and move your chair out of the way. Squat down and stand straight up whenever you have to retrieve something from the floor.

Know Your Own Strength

  • Studies show that a female who is physically in shape can lift as much as 50 pounds over her head. The Average is 28 Pounds lifted above the head.
  • Men who are physically in shape can lift 70 pounds over the head. The average is 37 pounds.

Lift it Right
If a load weighs more than 25 pounds, follow these recommended steps for lifting it:

  • Position your feet properly. One foot goes next to the load and one goes behind it.
  • Squat down, keeping you head erect and your back straight
  • Grip the load using your full palm. Fingers alone are too weak.
  • Draw the load close to your body and keep your elbows and arms near you.
  • Center your body weight over your feet, then start lifting with a thrust of your legs.
  • If you must turn, don’t twist your body. Point your foot in the direction you’re turning.

Get in Shape
If your job involves lifting, a physical conditioning program could help you. Stretching exercises are important because they help prevent injuries that come from sudden jerking of muscles that are too tight. Running, swimming, and aerobics and weight training all increase strength and stamina.