How Dangerous Are Vibration Hazards in the Workplace?

Excessive occupational vibration exposure has been shown to cause severe injuries and health conditions.

Every day, millions of workers are exposed to vibration due to heavy machinery and tools. Unfortunately, excessive occupational vibration exposure has been shown to cause severe injuries and health conditions.

Occupational vibrations are usually classified into two general types:

Missouri workers using a hammer drill

1. Whole Body Vibration (WBV) 

Also known as head-to-toe vibration, Who Body Vibration (WBV) is a potential hazard for employees who work with mobile machinery and equipment such as Lorries, forklifts, tractors, etc. WBVs affect the whole body and are usually transmitted via the feet, buttocks, or back. 

Head-to-toe vibration can cause or exacerbate other health issues such as:

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Digestive complications 
  • Impairment of balance, vision, or both
  • Endocrine, metabolic, respiratory disorders
  • Varicose veins

WBV exposure in women has also been shown to cause reproductive organ damage and pregnancy complications.

2. Hand-Arm Vibration (HAV)

As the name suggests, hand-arm vibrations are usually caused by vibrating hand-held tools or equipment such as grinders, sanders, and jigsaws, chipping hammers, floor polishers, and percussive tools. HAV can cause severe health issues such as:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Hand and arm pain
  • Sensory nerve damage
  • White finger, also known as dead finger

It’s worth noting that there are instances where an employee can be exposed to both whole body and hand-arm vibration. 

Employer’s Duty to Prevent Vibration Exposure in the Workplace

Employers are encouraged to:

  • Reduce the duration of vibration exposure in the workplace
  • Put measures in place that will help detect signs and symptoms of vibration exposure early before they turn into serious problems
  • Identify employees who are sensitive to vibration and minimize their exposure to vibration
  • Invest in ergonomically designed anti-vibration tools

Employees can also protect themselves from vibration-induced health conditions by ensuring they wear anti-vibration gear when handling vibrating tools and resting vibrating tools on supports as much as possible. 

Are You at Risk?

Vibration is a risk factor in many industries. However, industries where workers regularly use heavy-powered tools or motor vehicles are more prone to vibration-related injuries. Such industries include (but are not limited to):

  • Construction
  • Farming
  • Logging, lumber, and woodworking 
  • Truck and auto manufacturing
  • Transportation

Proving Your Condition is Work-Related

The good news is vibration-induced injuries and health conditions are generally compensable. This means you can generally file a workers’ compensation claim and get reimbursement of medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses related to your injuries.

However, just like any other workers’ compensation claim, you have to prove that your injuries are work-related. This is where a workers’ comp attorney can help. Your attorney will help you collect evidence, build a convincing claim and make sure you get all of the benefits you are entitled to.

St. Louis Workers Compensation Lawyers

If you are in Missouri and have sustained vibration-related injuries at your workplace, you may be entitled to compensation. Our St. Louis workers’ compensation attorneys are here to help! Contact us today for a free case evaluation!

Speak With a Workers Comp Attorney

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Call (314) 361-4300
Updated: November 10, 2021