Epidemiological studies have shown that simultaneous exposure to whole-body vibration and unfavourable body posture may lead to health complaints among employees. Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to quantify the mutual influence between these two stresses.
In order to permit quantitative assessment of this influence in the future with reference to a numerical value, as much data as possible had first be obtained on this combined stress under real working conditions.
External to this project, future partners in the areas of biomechanics and occupational medicine are to use these data, obtained from field measurements, in order to assess the impact of the two forms of stress in combination upon complaints and adverse health effects.
Project 4136, "Simultaneous measurement of whole-body vibration and posture", conducted by the BGIA (Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance, now IFA), demonstrated that it is possible to measure the stress upon employees caused by unfavourable posture and whole-body vibration at workplaces simultaneously.
The method developed during the preliminary work (Project 4136) was employed for this purpose. The CUELA measurement system was used to record body postures. CUELA employs sensors which are attached to the test subject's clothing and do not obstruct performance of the task. At the same time, proven measurement techniques complying with the standards were used to measure the whole-body vibration. Merging of the data enabled to determine the level of vibration stress and the body posture for any point in time.
The chief task of the present project was to measure body posture and whole-body vibration in as many cases as possible. For this purpose, measurements already planned (for example for advising on vibration reduction and for risk assessments) were extended, and measurements were conducted directly in conjunction with companies.
At several meetings and in the course of comparative measurements, the measurement services of the parties to the project agreed on harmonized measurement strategies and interpretations. Altogether, data are available for 74 drivers and 23 different types of vehicle, and from 27 companies. During the project, the CUELA measurement system was extended with the addition of further sensors for torsional movement, and tested. Opportunity also presented itself for evaluation of the combination exposure to be studied in a further research project (FF-FP0306 concerning an occupational medical study into combined exposure to whole-body vibration and body postures). Around half of the available data can also be used for this latter project.
The criteria for evaluation were developed further in the course of the project (see publication). At present however, a definitive evaluation of the combined exposure is not possible.A further problem is the quantity of data recorded during the measurements, which at present is not sufficient for definition of a practicable single-digit value describing the combined exposure.
The occupational medical aspect of this issue will be addressed in a further project (FF-FP 0306) conducted by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) which will exploit the data on combined exposure obtained in this project.
-cross sectoral-Type of hazard:
Arbeitsbedingte Gesundheitsgefahren, Lärm/VibrationenCatchwords:
Belastung, Vibration, Physikalische FaktorenDescription, key words:
field measurements, combined exposures, exposure to vibration, whole-body vibration, posture, vehicles, mobile machinery