Whole body vibration in mobile machinery – A pilot study of consequences of new evaluation methods (NT TR 516)

  • Report #: NT TR 516
  • Approved: October 2002
  • Author(s): Karin Rothschild, Kjell Spång, Palle Voss
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Whole-body vibration emission from mobile workplaces must, in order to meet the EU ‘Machinery Directive’, be declared. This has been mandatory since 1995. During 2001 a new EU directive on vibration exposure has been negotiated. The result is common European exposure limits for whole-body vibration in a new physical agents directive. A number of methods for the evaluation of whole-body vibration exposure have been standardised. Depending on the choice of evaluation method different conclusions as to the vibration exposure can be reached. NORDTEST project 1598-02 is the first step in a study with the aim to evaluate the consequences for Nordic workplaces of the implementation of new whole-body vibration evaluation methods. Measurements have been performed in three selected workplaces representing different areas where the workers are exposed to high vibration levels on a daily basis. They were:
  • Harbour (Norway). Measurements were performed on a container truck, while loading and unloading containers and trailers.
  • Forestry (Sweden). Measurements were performed on a harvester and a forwarder under typical use in a forest where the ground conditions are medium severe.
  • Agriculture (Denmark). Measurements were performed on an agricultural tractor while travelling on farm road, ploughing and harrowing.
  • The pilot study has been limited to a few cases and the conclusions are preliminary. The pilot study indicates that the two methods in the Physical Agents Directive give different results when comparing the daily exposure with the action and limit values. The pilot study also reveals a number of difficulties in measurement of vibration in seats at workplaces and in the interpretation of the results.
The main study should include additional workplaces in order to attain more material for conclusions and recommendations. It is also recommended that a guideline to prEN 14253 is developed for detailed guidance on how to make measurements at workplace and how to interpret the results.