Effects of exposure to occupational hand-arm vibration on maintenance of postural balance

Kazuko Tanaka, Takafumi Maeda, Masatoshi Tanaka, Tetsuhito Fukushima

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4 Citations (Scopus)


In order to determine the relationship between exposure to hand-arm vibration through the use of vibration tools and dysfunction in the maintenance of postural balance, 106 male forestry workers were examined by stabilometry for deflection in the center of gravity and in the air conduction hearing levels. A questionnaire survey was also conducted among the workers in order to obtain details regarding their age, the types of tools used by them, and the duration for which they had used a chain saw. The vibration acceleration of a chain saw has been limited to a level of 3 G or less since 1976 in accordance with the notification from the Japanese Forestry Agency and the Ministry of Labor. In fact, chain saws with significantly reduced vibration acceleration in comparison with those used before 1976 have been available. Therefore, in 2000, we conducted a test on forestry workers who were divided into two groups-workers who had used a chain saw for 25 years or more (25-yr-or-more group) and workers who had used a chain saw for 24 yr or less (24-yr-or-less group). Compared to the 24-yr-or-less group, the 25-yr-or-more group exhibited significantly higher levels of average deflection in the center of gravity, expressed as the enveloped (aENV) and rectangular (aREC) areas, and in the hearing levels at 500, 1000, 2000, 4000 and 8000 Hz. For the aENV, the correlation coefficients revealed significant relationships between the hearing levels at 4,000 Hz, the duration of use of a chain saw, and age. Since the duration of use of a chain saw exhibited a significant relationship with age, it was necessary to eliminate the effect of age on the aENV. Subsequently, we divided all the workers into age groups spanning ten years each (from 20 to 70 yr) and compared the aENV among the same age groups in both the 25-yr-or-more and the 24-yr-or-less groups. The averages of the aENV for each age group were higher in the 25-yr-or-more group than in the 24-yr-or-less group. In particular, a significant difference was observed in the group of workers in their 40s. Moreover, the average of aENV value was significantly higher in the 25-yr-pr-more group than in the 24-yr-or-less group among the workers between 46 and 68 yr, with their ages being congruent in both groups. While investigating the impact on the workers who had used chain saws, it might be difficult to examine the effect of occupational vibration independent of the noise load. Nevertheless, this study suggests the possibility that a decrease in the maintenance of postural balance has a stronger relationship with exposure to thumping vibration in the past than with the age factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-228
Number of pages6
JournalSangyō eiseigaku zasshi = Journal of occupational health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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