Risk of hand-arm vibration syndrome according to occupation and sources of exposure to hand-transmitted vibration: A national survey.
Palmer KT., Griffin MJ., Syddall H., Pannett B., Cooper C., Coggon D.
BACKGROUND: Although some occupational sources of hand-transmitted vibration (HTV) have been extensively investigated, the risks associated with others are poorly characterized. METHODS: A questionnaire was mailed to a community sample of 12,240 men aged 16- 64 years and 906 men from the armed forces. Questions covered current occupation, sources of HTV, numbness or tingling in the fingers in the past week, and finger blanching. In the 5,364 respondents who had been at work in the past week, associations between symptoms and exposures were examined by logistic regression, with odds ratios converted into prevalence ratios (PRs). RESULTS: Altogether, 513 men (10%) reported cold-induced finger blanching and 769 (14%) sensory symptoms in the fingers. The risk of blanching was increased in builders (PR 2.4, 95% CI 1.0-5.2), carpenters and joiners (PR 1.9, 95% CI 1.0-3.4), motor mechanics (PR 2.3, 95% CI 1.1-4.6), and laborers (PR 2.8, 95% CI 1.3-6.0); while the risk of sensory symptoms was elevated in laborers (PR 4.0, 95% CI 2.3-6.6) and plant operatives (PR 3.5, 95% CI 1.9-5.9). Use of hand-guided mowers, concrete breakers, chain saws, and jig saws was significantly associated with symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Little attention has been paid to the risks of vibration injury in construction workers, woodworkers, motor mechanics, and laborers, or to the risks from mowers, jig saws and several other common vibratory tools. These should be a focus for further investigation and preventive measures.