Recent evidence indicates that the influence of psychosocial factors on low back disability is as great as, if not greater than, ergonomic aspects; negative attitudes and beliefs are likely to be related to absenteeism. To measure workers attitudes and beliefs about low-back trouble, pain, work and activity five questionnaires were used. Two new instruments (Back Beliefs Questionnaire and Psychosocial Aspects of Work questionnaire) were developed and tested. The attitudes and beliefs were measured among workers in a biscuit manufacturing factory, and the responses related to absenteeism. Workers who had taken in excess of one week's absence due to low-back trouble had significantly more negative attitudes and beliefs when compared with workers who had taken shorter absence (or indeed those reporting no history of back trouble). A subset of the psychosocial parameters accounted for 32% of the variance in absence. Interventions designed to reduce negative attitudes and promote positive beliefs may help to reduce detrimental, inappropriate longer-term absenteeism due to low-back trouble.