WIT Press

Vibration Exposure Of Workers: Considerations On Some Technical And Interpretative Aspects Of The EC Standards Recently Issued


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WIT Press


L. Baralis, C. Cigna & M. Patrucco


The 2002/44/CE directive on occupational vibrations exposure, following the trend introduced with the recent review of the related ISO standards (ISO 2631 and ISO 5349), rises to great evidence the problem of an effective evaluation and management of the vibration related risk; but, since the aforesaid directive is not yet enforced in Italy, the new approach suggests a pause of reflection. This directive, with the necessary differences, adopts evaluation and protection criteria substantially common to those used for a number of physical risks, in particular for noise exposure assessment. However it introduces important modifications, in particular for whole-body exposure, previously commonly considered as an ergonomic problem, and now positively included in the list of occupational factors which can cause health impairment. In any case the introduction of assessment criteria adopted at European level will stimulate further investigations on this risk factor, still poorly known. It still remains in fact to fully understand the intrinsic relation between exposure parameters, related pathologies and the possibility to correlate and to quantify the interference between vibration exposure and other noxious agents (e.g. microclimatic conditions or problems related to cumulative trauma or efforts). The hope is that the compulsory respect of exposure limits now clearly defined, together with the growing conscience of the importance - even in terms of workers health protection - of the former directive 89/392/EEC will lead to a great impulse for the introduction of equipment specially engineered to reduce the vibrations emission at the source, for a revision of work organization and procedures, and for the improvement of the currently available individual protection devices. The paper discusses the results of some measurement campaigns of worker exposure recently carried out, and investigates the available updated control measures, according to the target levels provided by the new European standards; some comments are also summarized about the national situation. Keywords: vibration exposure, occupational safety and health, machinery, EC standards, risk management.


vibration exposure, occupational safety and health, machinery, EC standards, risk management.