Epidemiological study "Whole-body vibration

Project No. BIA 4050


completed 03/1997


Vibrations caused by an uneven surface or by a specific operation are a frequently observed phenomenon in connection with vehicles and machines. This may represent a health problem for the drivers who suffer from vibration exposure, as the occurring vibrations are transmitted via the pelvis into the driver's spine almost undamped. Permanent, long-term vibration exposure may lead to a discopathy of the lumbar spine (recognised occupational disease in the Federal Republic of Germany). The project was aimed to identify those conditions under which the vibration exposure becomes a real health risk so that preventive action must be taken.


Workplace exposure and its negative health effects were determined in the course of two investigations conducted jointly by the BIA and various other partners (University of Mainz, University of Düsseldorf, German Berufsgenossenschaft for the mechanical engineering and metal industry, German Berufsgenossenschaft for the underground engineering industry, German Berufsgenossenschaft for registered users of vehicles). There was a timely distance of four years between the two investigations. In both cases the following groups of workers were compared: lorry drivers with a relatively low exposure, fork lift truck drivers with a medium level of exposure, strongly exposed operators of earth-moving machines and a control group without vibration exposure. The rates for the vibration exposure were provided by the VIBEX database of the BG Institute for Occupational Safety (BIA).


It was possible to basically validate the exposure dose model used to assess vibrations which are likely to cause the occupational disease "discopathy of the lumbar spine caused by exposure to whole-body vibrations while sitting" (BK 2110 in the Federal Republic of Germany). Analyses of the significance helped to correct the existing daily and total reference exposure doses.


Dupuis,H.; Schwarze, S.; u.a.: Epidemiologische Studie "Ganzkörper-Vibration". Verbund-Forschungsvorhaben im Auftrag des Hauptverbandes der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften. Hrsg.: Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften, Sankt Augustin 1999

Further informations:

Last Update:

4 Mar 2002


Financed by:
  • Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften (HVBG)
Research institution(s):
  • Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitssicherheit - BIA

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

Lärm/Vibrationen, Arbeitsbedingte Erkrankungen, Arbeitsbedingte Gesundheitsgefahren


Belastung, Transport und Verkehr, Vibration

Description, key words:

whole-body vibration, civil and underground engineering, handling of goods, traffic, earth-moving machines, fork lift trucks, motor lorries, towing vehicles, lumbar spine, injuries, dose-response relationship, orientation values, calculation of the cumulated exposure dose, prevention, relative risk, prevalence ratio