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RR767 - Whole-body vibration and ergonomics of driving occupations: Ports industry

Back disorders are the most common form of ill health at work. The exact cause of back pain is often unclear but back pain is more common in jobs that involve driving, especially over long distances or over rough ground. Driving exposes the vehicle’s occupants to whole-body vibration that may include the shocks and jolts that are believed to increase the likelihood of injury or pain in the lower back. However drivers may also be exposed to other risk factors for lower-back pain such as poor posture while driving and manual handling while loading and unloading goods. The Health and Safety Laboratory have developed a toolkit that screens for these other ergonomic risk factors for back pain from driving occupations as well as assessing whole-body vibration exposure.

The aim of the work reported here was to apply the toolkit to driving occupations in the port industry. The list of occupations targeted by the study was agreed between the Port Skills and Safety (PSS), the ports industry’s organisation for health, safety, skills and standards and HSE. The vibration exposure from the relevant vehicles and machines was assessed on a number of surfaces, as the industry consensus was that the vibration levels would vary substantially with surface conditions. PSS provided locations where the necessary vehicle-surface combinations could be found.

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 2010-03-15