Human machine interactions and the human response to vibration

Conference paper - HAVS


The presented study offers a deeper insight into the effects of body posture on the vibration exposure of power tool operators in a typical civil engineering environment and illustrates the relative significance of certain factors listed within Annex D of ISO5349-1 which are not typically captured in risk assessments.

Correlation between the relative changes in assessed vibration and human response in each posture demonstrates that the change to assessed vibration is not merely an artefact arising from the different posture but does in fact have consequences for the risk faced by the individual. As data from the study demonstrated, effects of posture change are not uniform across tools or posture. This is considered highly significant in the context of the current approach to managing risk from vibration in the workplace as these findings challenge the idea of a robust risk assessment using a formula of a fixed vibration magnitude and exposure time.

The study highlighted that posture could affect the estimated safe time of working for the heavier tools by a factor of two. A more detailed analysis of the relationship between findings from this study and the physiology of specific subjects would also be beneficial as the authors recognise the link between physiology and the ability to maintain certain postures more or less easily for certain subjects. The ability of the modern wearable device to directly track vibration exposure transmitted to the operator in real time and its positive correlation with human response offers a promising avenue for improvement whereby risk might be managed on an individual level or at least risk assessments more widely informed through a more extended period of data gathering and from a wider cohort of operators.

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