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Does Body Mechanics Training Really Prevent Back Injuries?

- October 2, 2019 by Brian Piñon, CSP (View all posts by Brian)

Manual materials handling is the risk exposure responsible for the highest share of claims costs among ICW policyholders. Historically, many employers have turned to body mechanics training to reduce injury frequency. What these employers don’t know is that study after study has shown this type of training to have no impact on the rate of injury associated with manual materials handling.

An oft-cited study sought to measure the impact of a robust training program for US postal distribution center workers. An intervention group of over 2,500 workers received two initial hour-and-a-half long, hands-on training sessions conducted by physical therapists. Also, refresher sessions were administered throughout the duration of the study. Five-and-a-half years after the program’s implementation, it was found that the intervention group’s rate of low back injury did not significantly differ from the control group of workers who did not participate in the training program. It’s clear that training workers on postures to assume while lifting should not be the primary focus of our injury prevention efforts.

Curious as to why such training is ineffective? Stay tuned for my next blog!



Daltroy, Lawren et al. (1997). A controlled trial of an educational program to prevent low back injuries. The New England Journal of Medicine, 337 (5), 322-328.