Environmental and Occupational Medicine. Rom WN, Renzetti AD Jr., Lee JS, Archer VE, eds., Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1983 Jan; :743-750
Research on the adverse health effects of vibration exposure is reviewed. Studies of whole body vibration, such as occurs in the operation of heavy equipment, have revealed effects on bone structure, blood chemistry, nerve conduction velocity, and respiration. Disorders of the bowel, musculoskeletal system, and venous system, as well as weight changes, have been described. It is recommended that workers not remain on a vibrating surface for any longer than necessary and, if possible, to locate machine controls remotely from the vibrating surface. The vibration source where workers are stationed should be isolated to reduce exposure. Machinery should be maintained to prevent excess vibration from developing. Segmental vibration, such as occurs in the operation of hand power tools, is linked to Raynaud's phenomenon, also known as dead hand or vibration white fingers. A grading system has been developed to classify stages of the phenomenon, ranging from intermittent tingling with no interference of activities, to extensive blanching of the fingers with debilitation necessitating job change. Workers exposed to vibrating hand tools should be screened for previous exposure and history of adverse effects. Workers on the job are advised to wear gloves to protect the hands, and wear clothing which will maintain body core temperature. Hands should be kept warm and dry during vibration exposure. Smoking, which induces vasoconstriction, should be avoided during the use of vibrating machinery. Tools should be held lightly and used at less than full throttle whenever possible. Symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon should prompt a visit to a physician. Work schedules with rest breaks are recommended to prevent continuous exposure, which increases the chances of developing adverse effects.