David G. Wilder and Donald E. Wasserman*

Human beings have been vibration exposed for thousands of years to nonhuman‐generated cyclic or repetitive loading since the beginning of the use of tools, boats, airplanes, railway travel, or other transport methods using animals or platforms that could be dragged or placed on runners/skids, rollers, or wheels. Impact and vibration (acceleration) have been of increasing interest since the early 1900s. As early as 1918, there was intense interest in the medical effects of power tool vibration exposure on workers by the famous occupational medicine pioneer Dr. Alice Hamilton.1


Vibration is the periodic motion of a body in alternately opposite directions from a position of rest. Vibration is present in most work settings where mechanical equipment is used. When vibration interacts with the human body, the coupling pathway in which it enters and moves through the body defines its path of travel. There are two major types of vibration that have human health concerns. Whole‐body vibration (WBV) affects the entire body and is usually transmitted in a sitting or standing position from a vibrating seat or platform. Segmental or hand–arm vibration (HAV) affects one or both upper extremities and is usually transmitted to the hand and arm only from a motorized hand tool. WBV is generated by motor vehicle operation, including cars, trucks, buses, trains, marine craft, construction and ...

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