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Hand-arm vibration depicted by NAPO
Dr Joerg Rissler
Alte Heerstr. 111
53757 Sankt Augustin
Tel.: +49 2241 231-2611
Fax: +40 2241 231-2234
Whole-body and hand-arm vibration
The effects of vibration upon human beings may range from annoyance and a deterioration in performance, through the endangering of health, to actual damage to health.
Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance on Noise and Vibration (LärmVibrationsArbSchV)
The European Directive 2002/44/EC protecting employees from the harmful effects of vibration at the workplace has been in force since July 2002. As an aid to transposition on the national level, a guide has been issued which is targeted at the member nations. Manuals on the subject of hand-arm and whole-body vibration in German are available for download.
The Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance on Noise and Vibration of 6th March 2007 converts the EC Directives for the Protection of Employees from Vibration and Noise respectively into German national law. For protection from vibration, exposure action values and exposure limit values have been defined for hand-arm and whole-body vibration. For workplaces exposed to vibration, a risk analysis is required, which can be carried out on the basis of measurements or estimates with the aid of information from the manufacturer. If the action values are exceeded by the daily vibration exposure A(8) based on eight hours, preventive measures of a technical and organizational nature must be taken. If available, personal protective equipment must be provided and used. Precautionary medical check-ups must be offered. The daily vibration exposure must not exceed the exposure limit values. For hand-arm vibration, the daily exposure value A(8) is derived as the total vibration value from the frequency-weighed accelerations on all three orthogonal axes, while for whole-body vibration, the daily exposure A(8) is the maximum value of the effective values of the frequency- weighed accelerations on all three axes. The action value for hand-arm vibration is 2.5 m/s² and for whole-body vibration 0.5 m/s². The exposure limit value for hand-arm vibration is 5 m/s² and for whole-body vibration 0.8 m/s² for the vertical z axis and 1.15 m/s² for the horizontal x and y axes of vibration.
Standards covering several machines are already available as instructions along with industry-related guides. On this subject, see the information sheet on the website of BG Expert Committee on "Machine Construction, Production Systems, Steel Construction", which offer further information to the topic concerned (in German).
Measurements, consultancy, testing
On behalf of the accident insurance institutions, the IFA conducts measurements and consultancy concerning workplace exposure to vibration. The institute is a notified body authorized to measure the vibration emission of machines and to test vehicle seats for the commercial sector. This includes, for example, the measurement of emissions on numerous hand-held and manually guided machines, and on industrial trucks. In addition, the seats of earthmoving machinery, industrial trucks, articulated vehicles, antivibration gloves and damping surfacings are tested for their required capacity to reduce vibrations. All tests are based upon test procedures which are standardized at international, European or national level.
Should the intensity reach certain levels, exposure over a period of years to whole-body vibration in a seated position may cause damage to the intervertebral disks of the spine (formally recognized occupational disease No. 2110). Hand-arm vibration can cause damage to joints (formally recognized occupational disease No. 2103) or circulatory disorders (formally recognized occupational disease No. 2104). Prevention in this area is therefore important.
Information for the Accident Insurance Institutions
The IFA stores the results of workplace vibration exposure measurements in the VIBEX database. These data are available to the Accident Insurance Institutions upon request, for example for clarification of the conditions regarding the work arrangements for the recognition of suspected cases of occupational disease (refer also to BGIA Report 10/2006, BIA Report 3/2002, IFA Manual: code 220 220; all in German only).
The Accident Insurance Institutions have at their disposal an occupational anamnesis software application for vibration. This application, developed by the IFA, satisfies the quality requirements commonly agreed as a basis for the processing of suspected cases of occupational disease.
Further reading on vibration
The latest information on transposition of the 2002/44/EC vibration directive
Updated BGIA Report
Vibrationseinwirkung an Arbeitsplätzen - Kennwerte der Hand-Arm-
und Ganzkörper-Schwingungsbelastung (Vibration exposure at workplaces - Parameters for hand-arm and whole-body
in German only)
• For hand-arm vibration (from HSE, UK)