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A summary of current Bureau research into the effects of whole-body vibration and shock on operators of underground mobile equipment.

Love-AC; Unger-RL; Bobick-TG; Fowkes-RS
Pittsburgh, PA: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, RI 9439, 1992 Jan; :1-19
Research conducted by the United States Bureau of Mines on the effects of whole body vibration and shock on operators of underground mobile equipment was discussed. Major findings of a literature review of these effects were presented. International Standards Organization document 2631 (ISO 2631) regarding human responses to whole body vibration was discussed. Whole body vibration has been shown to cause transient increases in heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen uptake, ventilation regulation, ventilation volume, and the flow of afferent nerve signals from the joints, tendons, or skin. These effects tend to return to their baseline values at later times. Published data have suggested that whole body vibration causes an increased incidence of low back pain, spinal disc problems, gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory problems, ischemic heart disease, and hemorrhoids. No definitive evidence that whole body vibration causes permanent health effects has been obtained. ISO 2631 has been criticized for being too hypothetical and reliant upon inappropriate laboratory studies; however, it has been generally accepted as the best standard available for evaluating the effects of whole body vibration on working efficiency, health and safety, and worker comfort. The few data existing on the effects of whole body vibrations on operators of underground mining equipment indicate that the major effects are on the performance of visual and manual tasks, primarily those involving visual acuity. Seats and seating materials, particularly those used in underground mining equipment, need to be improved to attenuate the effects of whole body vibration and shock. Shuttle cars and scoop trams were most associated with whole body vibration. Whole body vibrations were found to increase heart rate, blood pressure, and personal discomfort. Changes in heart rate and blood pressure were not altered by modifying the orientation of the operator's seat or adding foam to the seat; however, the presence of foam material decreases the amount of personal discomfort.
Vibration-exposure; Vibration-effects; Mining-equipment; Epidemiology; Underground-mining; Blood-pressure; Back-injuries; Laboratory-techniques
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Pittsburgh, PA: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, RI 9439
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division