The aim of this study is to investigate and compare vibration and shock measurements of maintenance-of-way vehicles used in the railroad industry for track maintenance and construction. Following international standards (i.e., ISO 2631-1: 1997) and professional guidelines the frequency weighted root-mean-square (r.m.s.) acceleration for each measurement axis, the vector sum, the seat effective amplitude transmissibility (SEAT), the crest factor (CF), the maximum transient vibration value (MTVV), the vibration dose value (VDV), the ratio and the newly proposed shock risk estimation factor 'R' for spinal injury according to ISO 2631-5:2004 were measured and calculated for seven different maintenance-of-way vehicles during revenue service. Furthermore, a proposed alternative spinal injury prediction method, the VibRisk model, which incorporates different typical driver postures and operator physical characteristics was included for comparison with the ISO 2631-5 risk prediction. The results of the vibration exposure measurements depended on vehicle type, track/surface conditions and seat properties, with the tamper and bulldozer showing the highest r.m.s. vibration values. The vector sum (a(v)) results ranged from 0.37 to 0.99 (m/s(2)). Five of seven track maintenance vehicles would exceed the current Whole-body Vibration ACGIH-TLV(®) guideline for an 8 h exposure duration in the vertical axis recommended by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). The measured CF, MTVV/a(w) and VDV/(a(w)·T(1/4)) ratios were at or above the critical ratios in the majority of measurements given by the ISO 2631-1 (1997) and American industry guidelines by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH-TLV). Comparing both prediction models for vibration shock risk for parts of the lumbar spine, different risk predictions and inconsistencies were found. The VibRisk model generally suggests different and higher risk of vertebral endplate failure for individual lumbar levels, whereas the ISO 2631-5 model indicated generally lower risks and did not differentiate between different disk levels and driver posture. Epidemiological studies validating the different shock risk models are lacking. Work modifications and adequate suspension seats would be beneficial for prevention of harmful exposure to vibration and shocks.
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