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RR667: Upper limb disability and exposure to hand-arm vibration in selected industries

There is a need for evidence-based intelligence related to ill-health caused by exposure to vibration that could be used to benchmark the extent of disease and allow assessment of changes over time. This ideally requires simple, validated and cheap tools that can be administered easily across all industries. The Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) questionnaire is one instrument that may be useful.

The emphasis of HSE’s Noise and Vibration Programme has been on the health outcome of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), which is by definition causally associated with cumulative hand-transmitted vibration exposure. However, individuals with HAVS may also have other musculoskeletal disorders, which may or may not be a consequence of vibration exposure, but that will contribute to their overall disability.

The study reported here involved the application of the DASH questionnaire to a population working with hand-held vibrating tools, whilst collecting simple information related to industry, trade, tools used, vibration exposure, known health problems and symptoms in the upper limbs. Following discussion with appropriate HSE colleagues four industries were selected for study: Gardening; Manufacture of Basic Metals, Construction and Motor Vehicle Repair.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2010-03-19