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Overview of Whole Body Vibration. In this Slide Show. Definition of Whole Body Vibration (WBV) Ten questions about WBV, answered. Whole Body Vibration(WBV).

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Overview of Whole Body Vibration

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in this slide show
In this Slide Show
  • Definition of Whole Body Vibration (WBV)
  • Ten questions about WBV, answered
whole body vibration wbv
Whole Body Vibration(WBV)

WBV refers to mechanical energy oscillations which are transferred to the body as a whole (in contrast to specific body regions), usually through a supporting system such as a seat or platform. Typical exposures include driving automobiles and trucks, and operating industrial vehicles.


Ten Questions* About Whole Body Vibration Answered

*Adapted from the Health and Safety Executive Brochure #ISBN 07176 1314 3

what sort of vibration causes back injuries
What sort of vibration causes back injuries?
  • Back injury can be caused by vibration from a vehicle or machine passing through the seat into the driver’s body through the buttocks. This is Whole Body Vibration (WBV).
  • Whole body vibration can also pass from the platform of a vehicle or machine into the operator through the feet.
how much exposure to whole body vibration is likely to lead to back injury
How much exposure to whole body vibration is likely to lead to back injury?

Regular exposure to whole-body vibration over many months or years can lead to damage and back pain. The longer you are exposed and the higher the level of whole-body vibration, the greater the chances of you suffering a back injury.

Once you begin to suffer back pain, continued exposure to vibration is likely to make the pain worse. Prompt action to protect workers from vibration should stop the damage from getting worse.

are there any other factors involved
Are there any other factors involved?

Exposure to whole-body vibration is not the only cause of backpain. Other factors which can cause or increase back pain include:

● poor driving posture

● poor design of controls making them difficult to operate

● poor driver visibility making twisting and stretching necessary when driving

● other work activities that might put a strain on the back ,

for example handling and lifting heavy objects

● personal factors such as level of general fitness, being

overweight, and choice of leisure pursuits

You should look at all these factors when assessing the risk of back

to your employees.

who is at risk
Who is at Risk?

Those most at risk are regular drivers of:

  • construction and quarrying vehicles and machinery
  • tractors and other agricultural and forestry machinery
  • industrial trucks such as lift trucks and straddle carriers
  • road haulage vehicles, rail vehicles, buses, etc.

Those operating large static compaction, hammering, or punching machinery, for example hammer mills and mobile crushers, can also be exposed to high levels of whole body vibration.

what should i do
What should I do?
  • Assess the health risks to your workers from WBV and identify what you need to do to control those risks.
  • Ensure that the equipment you provide for your employees has been designed or adapted to minimize WBV.
how do i assess risk
How do I assess risk?
  • You should probably assume that workers are at risk if they regularly drive or operate vehicles and machinery for most of the day.
  • You may want to arrange for vibration levels to be measured. This can be done by a vibration expert or by some industrial hygienists. They can take the measurements and make the necessary recommendations for reducing vibration.
what can i do to reduce exposure to wbv
Ensure that vehicles and machinery are adequately maintained, particularly suspension components.

Check the driver’s seat to see that it is in good repair, and gives good support.

Check whether a suspension seat is fitted suitable to the vibration characteristics of the machine and if not, whether a suitable seat can be fitted. You may need to talk to the machine’s manufacturer about this.

If a suspension seat is fitted, ensure it is correctly adjusted to the operator’s weight according to the manufacturer’s instructions

Ensure that where equipment in vehicle cabs can be adjusted, it is set to suit the size and reach of drivers expected to use it.

Choose the right vehicle or machine for the ground surface and task.

Check to see that the vehicles have the right tires and that they are inflated to the right pressure for the ground surface

What can I do to reduce exposure to WBV?
what can i do in the longer term
What can I do in the longer term?
  • Introduce a policy for buying low vibration vehicles and machinery. Many manufacturers can give you their machinery’s vibration numbers.
  • Asking manufacturers or suppliers whether they tested the machinery in the way the employees will use it.
  • Ask manufacturers or suppliers to advise you how to use and maintain the machinery to minimize the effects of WBV on the operators.
what training should i give employees
What training should I give employees?

Tell employees about WBV, the risk of back pain and what they can do to prevent injury. Employees need information and training on:

  • sitting and posture
  • how to adjust the seat for good seating position and posture and where a suspension seat is fitted, for the driver’s weight, especially when different people drive the vehicle.
  • identifying the vehicles or machines and work situations with the highest levels of vibration and arranging a rotation for operators or drivers to reduce the time spent on them by individuals.
  • planning work site routes with the smoothest terrain
  • if possible, improving the ground surface over which vehicles have to be driven regularly, for example by repairing potholes, clearing debris or leveling it out.
is there anything else i can do
Is there anything else I can do?
  • Encourage employees to report back discomfort symptoms early.
  • Encourage employees to seek medical advice if they think their exposure to WBV is harming them.
whole body vibration references links
Whole Body Vibration References & Links


Health Effects of long-term occupational exposure to whole-body-vibration: a review, Wikstrom, B.O., Kjellberg, A., Landstrom, U. (1994), International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 14 (4), 273-292.


Health Effects, Evaluation and Control of Whole Body Vibration

Whole Body Vibration Information for Truck Drivers (PDF)

Sources, causes and measurement of WBV

Thank you for taking the time to learn about safety and health and how to prevent injuries and illnesses.