By: Donald E. Wasserman,
Occupational Vibration Consultant
Have you ever personally experienced or watched a
heavy equipment construction crew get tossed around
by vibration; or a truck driver moving a heavy rig down
the highway; or someone using a power hand-tool and
observed the intense ripples of vibration motion begin-ning
at the operator's hands, moving up through the
forearms to the shoulders? Do you think this daily
human exposure to vibration is harmless? Think
again...because what you don't know about daily
vibration exposure can seriously and irreversibly hurt
those who are exposed!
In the U.S.A. alone there are some 8-10 million people
who are regularly exposed each day to occupational
vibration and many more world-wide. These vibration
exposures are usually divided into two different major
groups depending on the job.
- One major exposure type is called Whole Body
Vibration (WBV), or head-to-toe exposure, affecting
truck, bus, heavy equipment, farm vehicle, fork-lift,
railroad, and overhead crane operators, etc.
- The second major exposure type is called Hand-Arm
Vibration (HAV), or localized vibration exposure, main-ly,
but not exclusively, affecting people who regularly
use all types of vibrating pneumatic, electrical,
hydraulic, and gasoline powered hand-tools.
- On rare occasions there can be daily "crossover expo-sures"
between WBV and HAV, depending on the job.
For example, in the case of certain hand-tool usage
such as pneumatic pavement breakers or demolition
type tools where the operator can choose either to grasp
the tool with their hands extended away from their
torso (HAV exposure) or letting the tool rest against
their torso (WBV exposure) in an attempt to damp the
vibration. Sometimes both WBV and HAV exposures
occur simultaneously, such as in motorcycling or
mountain bike use.
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