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Are Whole Body Vibrations Affecting Your Drivers? Here’s What You Can Do

Whole body vibration (WBV) has become one of the numerous health and safety hazards within many working environments. Your lift truck operators are exposed to harmful levels of vibration in their daily work which can result in many health effects, from loss of vision to musculoskeletal disorders.

The vibration levels that your operators are experiencing need to be taken seriously and exceeding these levels needs to be avoided.

We have summed up the most important aspects of ‘WBVs’ as well as some guidelines on how to eliminate and avoid the many risks involved.

What are whole body vibrations (WBV)?

‘WBV’ is the vibration transmitted through the seat, to the operator (from the truck) especially when machines are driven over rough or uneven surfaces.

What causes WBV?

-Engine vibrations

-Resistance forces

-Vehicle activity

-Rough or uneven surfaces

What are the effects of WBV on operators?

Lower back pain (often rendering operators unable to work for long periods) has been the most commonly reported disorder. Recently, studies have found that long term exposure to WBV increases the risk of more serious health effects.

Serious health effects:

-Degeneration of the spine.

-Reproductive organ damage.

-Impaired vision and balance.

-Problems with the digestive system.

-Possible herniated disks.

-Changes to respiratory, metabolic, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.

Important factors that play a role in the amount of WBV exposure:

-The amount of visibility and lighting.

-The type of vehicle.

-The age and condition of the vehicle.

-The layout if the cab.

-Construction and maintenance of the road and vehicle.

-Maintenance of the vehicle’s suspension system.

How can you reduce or eliminate the risks of WBV?

In order to reduce the risks of WBV, you will need to look at three points:

-The source

-The paths of vibrations

-And the operators’ position

Tips to minimize vibrations:

-Rotate your drivers in order to decrease exposure levels.

-Consider high-quality replacements or simply maintain the seats of your vehicles.

-You can purchase machines specifically designed to reduce vibrations.

-Train your employees on how to correctly operate machinery and equipment.

-Set speed limits according to the ground conditions your vehicles travel on.

-Improve the ground conditions of your workspace.

-Implement a seat maintenance program for your vehicles.

Our role as forklift distributors in reducing the impact and risks of WBV:

As forklift distributors, it is our role to ensure that your operators and drivers are alert and productive during their operations. In order to do this, we must be sure that they are only exposed to minimal levels of vibrations.

All forklift distributors should work directly with operators, drivers and owners to:

-Survey applications in order to identify potential issues on sites.

-Specify the RIGHT forklift for specific applications and conditions.

-Periodically review risk assessments and corrective actions.

-Configure the forklifts features to suit specific conditions.

To conclude:

‘WBV’ is a prominent issue and the importance of keeping vibration levels to the minimum is seen through the serious health effects that prevail. Reducing the risks of ‘WBV’ will increase productivity levels and health and safety standards within your workspace.

For more forklift-related articles and ‘how to’s’, visit our blog.


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