Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2006;32(3):198-203    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.999

Relationship between hand–arm vibration exposure and onset time for symptoms in a heavy engineering production workshop

by Burström L, Hagberg M, Lundström R, Nilsson T

Objectives This study examined onset time for reported vascular and neurological symptoms in relation to the vibration load in a group of workers exposed to vibration.

Methods Information on the self-stated year for the first occurrence of symptoms was collected by means of questionnaires. During interviews data were obtained on self-stated estimations of daily exposure time, type of tool, and number of months or years with different exposures. The estimations of the vibration magnitudes of exposure were based on conducted measurements. From these data, the individual vibration exposure at the time of onset of symptoms was calculated.

Results The incidence was 25.6 and 32.9 per 1000 exposure years for vascular and neurological symptoms, respectively, in the group of workers. The first onset of symptoms appeared after an average of 12 years of exposure. For the workers, the symptoms of vascular or neurological disorders started after about the same number of exposure years. The calculated accumulated acceleration correlated best with the onset time of symptoms.

Conclusions It was concluded that, since the workers’ exposure to vibration was below the action level established in the European vibration directive, the results suggest that the action level is not a safe level for avoiding vascular and neurological symptoms.