This explorative study was designed to identify the usage of body mechanics in clinical settings and the occurrence of low back pain in nurses. The sample was composed of 56 nurses who work on the medical, surgical, emergency and intensive care units of a state hospital in Bolu, Turkey. Data collected through observation and interviews were evaluated using percentages, Chi-square and Mann-Whitney U tests. Results of the study showed that the majority of the nurses (87.5%) experienced low back pain at some time in their lives. Among the contributing factors for back pain, the relationship between wearing high heels, heavy lifting and back pain was significant statistically. According to the observations, the majority of the nurses used body mechanics correctly while sitting (53.6%), standing (58.7%), carrying (64.3%), pulling or pushing (79.4%), moving the patient to the side of the bed without an assistant (53.4%), moving the patient to a sitting position in bed (71.4%) and assisting the patient to a standing position (66.6%). However 57.1% of the nurses lifted and 82% extended incorrectly. The conclusion from this research was that some of the nurses do not use body mechanics correctly and the majority have low back pain. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.