What About Safety Belts and Back Belts?

What About Safety Belts and Back Belts

Safety Belts

Safety belts, also called body belts, are worn around the waist to help employees working at heights correctly position themselves in front of a work area or to prevent them from falling over an edge. Safety belts connect to positioning and restraint lanyards that are attached to an anchor point on a building or structure.

Body belts should not be considered personal protective equipment if they do not adequately protect employees from being injured if they fall. OSHA does not allow the use of safety body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system (PFAS). They may only be used for positioning a worker.

Back Belts

Employees may be allowed or even encouraged by the employer to use back belts to provide support for the lower back while lifting heavy objects at work. However, the use of back belts is not recognized by OSHA an adequate control measure to prevent back injury when lifting heavy objects.

While back belts may be acceptable to workers because they seem to provide additional support, they may restrict the body’s range of motion and eventually cause injury due to atrophy of back muscles. Research by NIOSH indicates that the primary value in back belts is that they “remind” the employee to use proper lifting techniques.

Work Clothing

Clothing must be worn which is appropriate to the work performed and conditions encountered. Loose sleeves, ties, lapels, cuffs, or other loose clothing must not be worn near moving machinery.

Make sure that you immediately remove clothing that becomes saturated or impregnated with flammable liquids, corrosive or toxic substances, irritants, or oxidizing agents. Don’t wear it again until it’s properly cleaned.

Defective and Damaged Equipment

Of course, defective or damaged personal protective equipment must not be used. It’s important to inspect PPE regularly, and before each use, to make sure it’s capable of adequately protecting an employee from exposure to hazards. Remember, PPE that is defective is not PPE.

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