Exposure to hand-transmitted vibration and pain in the neck and upper limbs.
Palmer KT., Griffin MJ., Syddall HE., Pannett B., Cooper C., Coggon D.
Workers exposed to hand-transmitted vibration (HTV) often experience aches and pains in the upper limbs, but there have been few studies of the pattern and severity of symptoms, or their relationship to the estimated dose of vibration. As part of a wider survey of vibration, we mailed a questionnaire about exposures to HTV and pain in the neck and upper limbs to a sample of men selected at random from the registration lists of 34 British general practices and the pay records of the armed services. Analysis was confined to the 1856 male respondents who had been employed in manual occupations for a year or more and who reported the last week as being representative of their job. Inquiry was made about pain in the neck, shoulder, elbow and wrist/hand over the past week and past year (including pains that limited normal activity). Subjects were classed according to their lifetime exposure to HTV and their estimated average daily vibration dose [A(8) r.m.s.] in the previous week. A total of 283 men had a minimum estimated A(8) greater than a proposed action level of 2.8 m/s(2), and in this group symptoms were about twice as prevalent as in manual workers who had never used vibratory tools. The excess risk was somewhat higher for distal sites than for proximal ones (e.g. the prevalence ratio for hand/wrist pain in the past week was 2.7 versus 1.8 for neck pain). This accords with the pattern of transmission of HTV to the upper limb, although a confounding effect from other ergonomic risk factors cannot be discounted.