Calculation of cumulative hours across all vibrating tools used is a more powerful predictor of HAVS than the use of simple years of exposure.

Assessing past cumulative vibration exposure is part of assessing the risk of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) in workers exposed to hand-arm vibration and invariably forms part of a medical assessment of such workers. This study investigates the strength of relationships between the presence and severity of HAVS and different cumulative exposure metrics obtained from a self-reporting questionnaire.

Use of simple years of exposure is a weak predictor of HAVS or its increasing severity. The calculation of cumulative hours across all vibrating tools used is a more powerful predictor. More complex calculations based on involving likely acceleration data for specific classes of tools, either frequency weighted or not, did not offer a clear further advantage in this dataset.

The study concludes that assessing years of exposure or 'latency' in a worker should be replaced by cumulative hours of tool use. This can be readily obtained using a tool-pictogram-based self-reporting questionnaire and a simple spreadsheet calculation.


Source: Exposure assessment in health assessments for hand-arm vibration syndrome. Mason HJ, Poole K, Young C; Occup Med (Lond). 2011 Aug;61(5):374-6.

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