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1 July 2005 PR 05/66

Loughborough University helps businesses tackle the dangers of vibration at work

Research carried out by Loughborough University will help businesses across the country adapt to the new ‘control of vibration at work regulations’, which come into force on July 6.

The regulations are being introduced to reduce the health risks associated with exposure to hand-arm and whole-body vibration. Employers will be required to assess and minimise risk, provide training for workers and, in some cases, control allowable exposure times.

Hand-arm vibration is caused by many power tools, such as those used in road maintenance, construction, mining and forestry, and can cause disorders such as vibration-white finger. Whole-body vibration occurs in drivers of off-road machines, passenger and freight transport, in agriculture and aircraft. The most commonly reported health effect from whole-body vibration is back-pain. It is estimated that in the UK alone each week almost five million people are exposed to hand-arm vibration, and nine million to whole-body vibration

Dr Neil Mansfield of the University’s Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre, based in the Department of Human Sciences, is an expert in the field of vibration at work. He has liaised with off-road machinery and tool manufacturers, seating manufacturers, trade associations and the Health and Safety Executive to establish current levels of exposure and methods to reduce the risks. This work has been augmented by laboratory research investigating the biomechanical and psychological responses of people exposed to vibration

Dr Mansfield said: “Exposure to hand-arm and whole-body vibration affects millions of people across the UK, which is why it is important that employers do all they can to reduce the risk of this occurring to their staff. As of July 6 they will have to do this by law, and at Loughborough we have been working closely with businesses to develop methods for reducing the risks.

“We have produced a book, ‘Human response to vibration’, and publish guidance for businesses in collaboration with the Off-highway Plant and Equipment Research Centre (OPERC) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

“Although the new regulations will cost businesses, in terms of training, performing risk assessments and updating equipment, the financial burden must be offset against the improved quality of life of workers, reduced sick-leave and sick-pay, reduced compensation and the reduced burden on the health sector due to the protection.”

The new regulations will be enforced by HSE inspectors, and those found breaching them could be fined.


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Notes to editors

  1. Dr Neil Mansfield will be available for interviews regarding the introduction of the new ‘control of vibration at work regulations’. He is a leading expert in this field and has conducted extensive research in this area. To arrange an interview please contact Judy Smyth.
  2. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place Loughborough in the top flight of UK universities, and industry highlights Loughborough in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 45% of the University’s income is for research. The University has been awarded four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; and for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development.

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