Poorly maintained vehicles put employee health at risk
When it comes to industrial vehicles, vibration is an inherent characteristic and often simply an indication of its operation rather than a cause for concern. While occasional exposure to vibration isn’t damaging, the longer a worker is subjected to excessive shocks the greater they are at risk of health effects and muscular disorders. Although anti-vibration components may not be the first thought when protecting employee health, for industries which operate construction or mining vehicles, it’s a concept which could help reduce poor health in the workplace.
Whole body vibration (WBV) can occur through the transmittance of shocks or tremors from industrial vehicles such as tractors, forklifts or diggers into a worker’s body, usually through the surface seating or flooring and can be caused by poorly designed and maintained vehicles. WBV can affect the health of worker in many ways, but typically manifests itself through back pain, which over a period of time will cause an individual’s health to deteriorate potentially even compromising their ability to work.
Although the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 came into force over 10 years ago, it still very much applies today and aims to protect employees against the risk of vibration from equipment and machinery in the workplace. While all humans can tolerate a certain level of vibration without having any repercussions, the regulations advises that 5.0 m/s2 A (8) shouldn’t be exceeded. If they haven’t already done so, they should undertake a risk assessment to find out whether their workforce is being exposed to worrying levels of vibration.
If workers are at risk of excessive vibration, steps can be taken to decrease or eliminate this, including purchasing new vehicles or replacement parts. Replacing anti-vibration mounts before they deteriorate is one option to avoid compromising the health of an employee. Regular inspection is recommended and operators should look for cracking, swelling or softening of the rubber mounts, checking and replacing defective vibration dampers, bearings and gears can also help reduce vibration.
Exposure to unnecessary vibration can be prevented by maintaining vehicles to a high standard, however for the oldest vehicles in a fleet, replacing damping components may not be enough. In these instances purchasing modern vehicles with high performing shock mounts is another option. Modern day vehicles typically promote driver comfort and safety so choosing products that are ergonomically designed can help forgo the prospect of injury.
Noise and vibration can be detrimental to employee health and also prematurely damage vehicles. Failing to protect employees against excessive vibration could not only lead to poor health and time off work, but penalty fines and damage to an organisation’s reputation. Good quality products from Trelleborg Antivibration Solutions could offer a practical solution for off-highway operators looking to appropriately protect their employees against exposure to vibration.