What is Whole Body Vibration?

Whole body vibration in the workplace refers to the exposure of workers to vibrations that are transmitted through their entire body while performing their job tasks. These vibrations can originate from various sources, such as operating heavy machinery, vehicles, or equipment that generate mechanical vibrations.

The vibrations are transmitted to the worker’s body primarily through direct contact with a vibrating surface or through gripping vibrating tools or equipment. Common examples include workers operating heavy machinery like construction equipment, forklifts, or power tools that produce significant vibrations during their operation.

Excessive or prolonged exposure to whole body vibration can potentially pose health risks to workers. The effects of whole body vibration can vary depending on factors such as the duration and frequency of exposure, the intensity of the vibrations, and individual susceptibility. Some potential health effects associated with whole body vibration include musculoskeletal disorders, back pain, spinal injuries, circulatory problems, and damage to internal organs.

To mitigate the risks associated with whole body vibration, employers can implement various measures. These may include:

  1. Engineering controls: Reducing vibrations at the source, such as, improving machine design or using vibration isolation mounts to minimise transmission
  2. Administrative controls: Implementing work schedules or job rotation to limit workers’ exposure to vibration and allowing them adequate rest periods
  3. Personal protective equipment (PPE): Providing workers with appropriate PPE, such as anti-vibration gloves or seat cushions, to reduce the impact of vibrations
  4. Training and education: Ensuring workers receive proper training on the potential hazards of whole body vibration, as well as techniques to minimise exposure and mitigate the associated risks

Regulatory bodies in many countries have established guidelines or standards to help employers manage whole body vibration in the workplace. Compliance with these guidelines can help protect workers’ health and well-being, promoting a safer working environment.

The British standard BS EN 14253:2003, suggests making at least 2 hours of measurements, but preferred half or full working day measurements, if possible. In case longer measurements are not possible, 20-minute intervals are suggested as a minimum.

View our range of whole body vibration monitoring kit.

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