There is only limited knowledge of the exposure to vibrations of ships’ crews and their risk of vibration-induced health effects. Exposure to hand-arm vibrations from the use of vibrating tools at sea does not differ from that in the land-based trades. However, in contrast to most other work places, seafarers are also exposed to vibrations to the feet when standing on vibrating surfaces onboard. Anecdotal reports have related the development of “white feet” to local exposure to vibration, e.g. in mining, but this connection has not been investigated in the maritime setting. As known from studies of the health consequences of whole body vibrations in land-transportation, such exposure at sea may affect ships’ passengers and crews. While the relation of back disorders to high levels of whole body vibration has been demonstrated among e.g. tractor drivers, there are no reported epidemiological evidence for such relation among seafarers except for fishermen, who, however, are also exposed to additional recognised physical risk factors at work. The assessment and reduction of vibrations by naval architects relates to technical implications of this impact for the ships’ construction, but has limited value for the estimation of health risks because they express the vibration intensity differently that it is done in a medical context.
International Maritime Health, 2014, Vol 65, Issue 2, p. 58-60
hand-arm vibration, whole body vibration, ships, maritime, seafarers