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Vibration-induced injuries in workers exposed to transient and high frequency vibrations

Journal article
Authors Lars Gerhardsson
Christina Ahlstrand
Per Ersson
Ewa Gustafsson
Published in Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology
Volume 15
Issue 1
ISSN 1745-6673
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Language en
Keywords Neurophysiologic effects, Vibration white fingers, Musculoskeletal, disorders, Work ability, ability index, musculoskeletal disorders, vibrotactile thresholds, additional factor, shock-waves, health, nerve, thermotactile, disability, neuropathy, Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Subject categories Environmental Health and Occupational Health


Background The risk of developing vibration white fingers and neurosensory symptoms increases with the duration and intensity of the exposure. The aim of this study was to investigate the risk of developing vibration white fingers (VWF), neurosensory symptoms and musculoskeletal disorders among workers exposed to transient and high frequency vibrations. Methods The study included 38 vibration exposed workers from a loader assembly plant in Sweden (30 males and 8 females). All participants answered questionnaires and had a structured interview about work and medical history. A following medical examination included the determination of vibration and temperature perception thresholds and musculoskeletal symptoms in the neck, shoulder, elbow and hands. The individual vibration exposure expressed as A (8)-values and vibration exposure in minutes per day, were obtained from questionnaires answered by the participants. Results The prevalence of VWF was 30% among the male workers and 50% among the females. The corresponding prevalence of neurosensory symptoms was 70% among the males and 88% among the females. Musculoskeletal findings were common among the male workers. Dominant symptoms/syndromes were tension neck syndrome, biceps tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar entrapment in hand/wrist. A total of 32 diagnoses were observed among the male workers and four diagnoses among the female workers. Numbness in fingers and age had the strongest impact on perceived work ability. Conclusions ISO 5349-1 considerably underestimates the risks of VWF for this group of workers exposed to transient and high frequency vibrations. It is therefore important to develop a risk assessment standard also covering this frequency range.

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