Wearing back belts, intended to prevent back injuries in workers who do moderate to heavy lifting, has become common. Back belts (lumbar support belts) are worn to offer protection against back pain and back injury while permitting workers to meet the demands of the physical exertion required in their jobs. Although a number of studies have been designed to evaluate the effectiveness of back belts, research evaluation in the typical work setting is difficult and has some limitations. The largest study to use baseline and follow-up interviews of workers in 160 merchandise stores, found that back belts do not reduce the incidence of back pain and injuries. This study found that individuals with a past history of back pain or injury had the greatest risk for future back injuries. Back belts were not effective for preventing back problems, neither for this high-risk group nor for those with no past history of back problems. Other studies of back belts have investigated biomechanical and physiological effects of back belts while lifting in a controlled laboratory setting. Although belt use reduced spine bending in laboratory trials, belt use did not reduce back injuries or back pain among retail material handlers in the workplace.