Health Effects Associated With Occupational Exposure to Hand/Arm or Whole-Body Vibration

Workers in a number of different occupational sectors are exposed to workplace vibration on a daily basis. This exposure may arise through the use of powered hand tools or hand-transmitted vibration (HTV). Workers also might be exposed to whole-body vibration (WBV) by driving delivery vehicles; using Earth-moving equipment; or using tools that generate vibration at low dominant frequencies and high amplitudes, such as jackhammers.

Occupational exposure to vibration has been associated with an increased risk of musculoskeletal pain in the back, neck, hands, shoulders, and hips. Occupational exposure also may contribute to the development of peripheral and cardiovascular disorders and gastrointestinal problems. In addition, more-recent data suggest that occupational exposure to vibration may enhance the risk of developing certain cancers.

The aim of this review is to provide an assessment of the occupations where exposure to vibration is most prevalent and a description of the adverse health effects associated with occupational exposure to vibration. This review examines various experimental methods used to measure and describe the characteristics of vibration generated by various tools and vehicles, the etiology of vibration-induced disorders, and how these data were used to assess and improve intervention strategies and equipment that reduces the transmission of vibration to the body.

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