Human vibration can lead to muscular and skeletal damage and circulation problems. The operator may also feel uncomfortable, productivity may be affected, and employee health and safety may be at risk.
Compliance with the European directive 2002/44/EC is a legal requirement in all EU countries and is therefore binding for all operators of industrial trucks. Generally speaking, the provisions of the directive apply to all undertakings in the European Union whose employees are exposed to vibration.
What are the key issues for the operators of industrial trucks? Before commencing business activity, the employer is required to conduct a hazard assessment (in Germany, pursuant to Section 5 of the German Occupational Health and Safety Act) to determine whether employees will be exposed to vibration. Measurements are to be taken wherever the level of exposure cannot be determined on the basis of manufacturer’s specifications and official sources.
The hazard assessment
Assessing the hazard of human vibration for one’s employees includes the following items:
- Type, extent and duration of exposure, including special working conditions, e.g. operating in cold stores. Exposure limit and action values
- Availability and feasibility of alternative work resources and equipment to reduce the level of vibration exposure
- Occupational health surveillance findings and any information in the public domain.
- Duration of work-related exposure in excess of an 8-hour shift
- Impacts on staff health and safety, particularly for at-risk groups
- Manufacturer’s specifications on vibration emissions
- The findings of the hazard assessment are to be documented