Whole-body vibration-related health disorders in occupational medicine--an international comparison

Ergonomics. 2015;58(7):1239-52. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2015.1005170. Epub 2015 Feb 6.


Workers with whole-body vibration (WBV) exposure are likely to report non-specific health complaints. Health and safety providers may not recognise such occupational injuries and may be unfamiliar with appropriate exposure assessment and prevention. This is a review of clinical studies, medical evidence, differential diagnostic evaluation protocols, surveillance programmes, national and international standards, and interventions recommendations utilising PubMed and other online resources. In summary, several studies show a clear trend: with increasing duration and intensity of occupational WBV exposure, primarily musculoskeletal or neurological disorders of the spine occur. Other organ damage has also been reported. In some European Union countries, spinal injury caused by WBV is recognised as an occupational disease and may be compensable. The WBV-related injury diagnosis includes a review of the work history, exposure assessment and differential diagnostic evaluation. WBV health surveillance should assess health status of WBV-exposed workers and address preventive measures.

Practitioner summary: Workers with whole-body vibration exposure report a variety of physical disorders. Health and safety providers may not recognise such injuries, or may be unfamiliar with exposure assessment and prevention. This review addresses health issues, exposure assessment and an international review of compensation criteria, trends and prevention efforts.

Keywords: causation; musculoskeletal disorders; occupational health; prevention; spine; whole-body vibration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • European Union
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Medicine*
  • Spinal Diseases / etiology
  • Vibration / adverse effects*