Self-reported back pain in tractor drivers exposed to whole-body vibration

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1990;62(2):109-15. doi: 10.1007/BF00383586.


A postal questionnaire on symptoms of ill health and exposure to whole-body vibration was completed by 577 workers (response rate 79%) who were employed in certain functions by two companies 11 years before. The relation between the occupational history of driving vibrating vehicles (mainly agricultural tractors) and back pain has been analyzed. The prevalence of reported back pain is approximately 10% higher in the tractor drivers than in workers not exposed to vibration. The increase is mainly due to more pain in the lower back and more pain lasting at least several days. A vibration dose was calculated by assigning each vehicle driven a vibration magnitude, estimated on the base of vibration measurements. The prevalence of back pain increases with the vibration dose. The highest prevalence odds ratios are found for the more severe types of back pain. These prevalence odds ratios do not increase with the vibration dose. This might be due to health-related selection which is more pronounced for severe back pain than for back pain in general. The two components of the vibration dose, duration of exposure and estimated mean vibration magnitude, have also been considered separately. Back pain increases with duration of exposure but it does not increase with the estimated mean magnitude of vibration. This is probably due to the inaccuracy of this estimate. The higher prevalence of back pain in tractor drivers might be (partly) caused by whole-body vibration, but prolonged sitting and posture might also be of influence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / etiology*
  • Agriculture / instrumentation*
  • Back Pain / etiology*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Vibration / adverse effects*