Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1986;12(4):307-312    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.2148

Vibration syndrome among Finnish forest workers, a follow-up from 1972 to 1983.

by Pyykko I, Korhonen O, Farkkila M, Starck J, Aatola S, Jantti V

A longitudinal survey on the prevalence of vibration syndrome among professional forest workers was conducted from 1972 (118 workers) to 1983 (206 workers). The prevalence of vibration-induced white finger (VWF) was 40% among the workers in 1972; it gradually declined to 5% in 1983. Three new workers developed VWF symptoms during the follow-up period. They had only used saws equipped with antivibration handles. The prevalence of VWF has decreased mainly due to the reduction of chain-saw vibration. The prevalence of paresthesias of the hands and arms declined from 78% in 1972 to 37% in 1976, and then increased to 51% in 1983. The recent increase was thought to be due to static muscle load and the ageing of the workers. No correlation was found between the severity of VWF and peripheral nerve symptoms. No significant changes in muscle fatigue occurred during the follow-up period; it was present in about 10-15% of the workers. The forest workers subjectively assessed musculoskeletal load and strain as being more harmful than the symptoms of vibration syndrome. The preventive measures aimed at reducing chain-saw vibration, implemented since 1970, have been beneficial and explain the decreased prevalence of VWF.