Mobile plant operators and transport workers in the road, rail and air segments are at significant risk of whole body vibration with potential health effects including back pain and injury, or even more serious disorders.
Whole body vibration generally results from operating earthmoving equipment, trucks, aircraft, cranes and trains where the operator’s whole body is subject to severe strain caused by the movement of the equipment including jolts and jars or the vibration of the engine.
Musculoskeletal injuries occur due to the muscle response to maintain posture for the average vibration measurements over longer periods of time. Risk factors also include seating design and posture while sitting for extended periods of time as well as undertaking manual handling tasks that increase strain to back muscles.
The NSW Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 at Clause 60 states:
- A person conducting a business or undertaking must manage risks to health and safety relating to a musculoskeletal disorder associated with a hazardous manual task, in accordance with Part 3.1
- In determining the control measures to implement under subclause (1), the person conducting the business or undertaking must have regard to all relevant matters that may contribute to a musculoskeletal disorder, including:
- postures, movements, forces and vibration relating to the hazardous manual task, and
- the duration and frequency of the hazardous manual task
Safe Environments uses the Brüel & Kjær Type 4447 human vibration analyser to undertake whole body vibration measurements according to ISO 2631-1 Mechanical vibration and shock, Evaluation of human exposure to whole body vibration Part 1: General requirements.
Representative measurements are generally taken for periods between 10 and 40 minutes using a Type 4515-B-002 seat pad and Type 4524-B accelerometer. The seat pad is placed on the driver’s seat to measure the whole body vibration values. An additional accelerometer can be fixed underneath the seat to the chassis to measure the attenuation provided by the seat.