Whole-Body Vibration Exposure Calculator

A tool for more effective WBV risk management

What is Whole-body Vibration? 

According to the HSE, whole-body vibration (WBV) is vibration that is transmitted into the body through the feet or a seat. WBV impacts workers who drive tractors, forklifts, or other vehicles. The primary symptom of WBV exposure is back pain, which is a major issue that impacts the health and well-being of workers across the UK. In fact, it’s estimated that over five million working days are lost each year due to back pain which is caused or worsened by work.

Employers have a responsibility to control the risk of WBV exposure among their workforce. The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations require employers to assess the risk that WBV exposure poses to their employees, and take action to ensure that exposure to vibration does not exceed prescribed exposure limits.

In this article, we’ll review whole-body vibration exposure in more depth, including its causes, which industries and workers it tends to impact the most, how it affects people’s health and well-being, and how Reactec can help teams gain an initial assessment of their risk in this area.

Whole-body vibration exposure: Who is at risk, and what are the symptoms?

Most often, exposure to whole body vibration occurs over time, and the effects are cumulative. The source of the vibration is often industrial vehicles, such as tractors and forklifts, but any mobile machine or work vehicle can pose a risk, especially when driven across uneven surfaces or operated for extended periods of time.

Workers across a variety of industries are impacted by WBV exposure. These include construction, manufacturing, agriculture, mining, military operations, and even long-distance coach/truck driving. Essentially, any worker who is regularly exposed to vibration through their feet or a seat is at risk of whole-body vibration exposure. Generally speaking, workers who are exposed more frequently to potentially dangerous sources of vibration are at greater risk of WBV exposure than those who interact with such vehicles or equipment less routinely, but a worker’s response to vibration can vary greatly depending on any number of individual factors. These include physiological considerations such as age, gender, and pre-existing conditions. Operator competency and equipment age and condition can also play a role.

The symptoms of WBV can range from moderate to severe, and may include: fatigue, discomfort, back pain, and joint problems. Exposure to WBV can also worsen other conditions. The ‘most pronounced’ long-term symptom of WBV exposure is damage to the spine, which can result in painful and potentially debilitating conditions such as spinal deformation, lumbago, and sciatica. To bring the issue of back pain into sharper focus: In the UK alone, over 5 million working days are lost every year to back pain which is caused or worsened by work.

For employers: A simple, free assessment of your team’s daily exposure to whole body vibration

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations apply to whole body vibration exposure and require employers to assess the risk posed to their employees, and take action to ensure that exposure to vibration does not exceed prescribed exposure limits1.

To gain an initial understanding of your risk environment with regard to WBV exposure, Reactec has developed a Whole Body Vibration Calculator, which provides a basic assessment of daily exposure to whole body vibration levels based on time of exposure and manufacturer declared values.

This simple tool can easily, quickly help you carry out an initial risk assessment so that employers can establish whether, and to what extent, they may need to take action to address whole body vibration exposure.

1. The Daily Exposure Action Value for WBV is set at 0.5 m/s² A(8). This is the level at which an employer must take an action to reduce a worker’s exposure to WBV. This can include switching a worker’s task or limiting their exposure in another way. The Exposure Limit Value is set at 1.15 m/s². A(8). This represents the maximum amount of exposure to WBV that is permitted by the HSE

Whole-body Vibration Exposure Calculator

To gain an initial assessment of your workers’ exposure to whole body vibration, complete the form below to request Reactec’s Whole Body Vibration Exposure Calculator:

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