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RR636 Whole-body vibration of ground-preparation activities in forestry

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 (CoVWR 2005) place duties on employers to assess and control the risks from exposures to whole-body vibration. Long-term exposures to high levels of whole-body vibration have been associated with lower back injury. Exposure to vibration shocks is believed to be particularly damaging. Lower-back injuries are also associated with other ergonomic issues that may be present when workers are exposed to vibration, such as poor seating postures and manual handling. When considering whole-body vibration it is important that these other factors are also investigated.

Earlier work on whole-body vibration funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Forestry Commission (FC) had studied the vibration exposure from forwarders and harvesters [Pitts 2006] and the ergonomics of harvesters [Milne et al 2002]. The work reported here follows on from that earlier work, but looks at a different aspect of forestry work, ground preparation activities, where vehicles are used on a variety of off-road surfaces where exposures are likely to be high.

Unlike the earlier work on forwarders and harvesters, this work on ground preparation vehicles has been carried out under a larger HSE funded project to develop and test a toolkit for systematically collecting a range of ergonomic and wholebody vibration data relating to lower-back injury in driving occupations [Darby 2006, published as RR612]. The toolkit ensures that data on all parameters associated with risks to the back when driving are evaluated. This project therefore provides information on postures, anthropometry of cab design and back injury as well as detailed information on wholebody vibration.

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Updated 2010-01-27