Whole-body vibration (WBV) comprises the transfer of relatively low-frequency environmental vibration to the human body through a broad contact area. These frequencies are in the range of 0.5 to 80 Hz (ISO, 1997; ANSI, 2002). Transmission occurs through the feet when standing, the buttocks when sitting (most common scenario) or the entire body length when reclining in contact with the vibrating surface. WBV exposures exist in many occupational settings.
The body as a whole and each individual organ have natural frequencies that can resonate with vibration energy received at their natural frequencies. Resonance of the body or its parts due to WBV is suspected to cause adverse health effects, primarily with chronic exposure.
Presently, most evidence supporting this relationship is epidemiological. Direct medical evidence is scarce, especially when compared to the greater amounts of data available for hand-arm vibration (HAV) illnesses that occur at higher frequency ranges. HAV exposures occur with higher vibration frequencies applied to the fingers and hands using powered hand tools, resulting in known adverse health effects such as "white finger" (Janicak, 2004).
In the U.S., standards are available for reference, however, no specific regulations (such as the Code of Federal Regulations) mandate WBV identification, monitoring and control. In Europe, WBV monitoring and exposure limits have been addressed in mandatory standards and regulatory directives.
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