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Dose-response patterns for vibration-induced white finger
  1. M J Griffin1,
  2. M Bovenzi2,
  3. C M Nelson1
  1. 1Human Factors Research Unit, Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
  2. 2Department of Public Health Sciences, Clinical Unit of Occupational Medicine, University of Trieste, Centro Tumori, Via della Pieta’ 19, 1–34129 Trieste, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor M J Griffin, Human Factors Research Unit, Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK;


Aims: To investigate alternative relations between cumulative exposures to hand-transmitted vibration (taking account of vibration magnitude, lifetime exposure duration, and frequency of vibration) and the development of white finger (Raynaud’s phenomenon).

Methods: Three previous studies have been combined to provide a group of 1557 users of powered vibratory tools in seven occupational subgroups: stone grinders, stone carvers, quarry drillers, dockyard caulkers, dockyard boilermakers, dockyard painters, and forest workers. The estimated total operating duration in hours was thus obtained for each subject, for each tool, and for all tools combined. From the vibration magnitudes and exposure durations, seven alternative measurements of cumulative exposure were calculated for each subject, using expressions of the form: dose = ∑amiti, where ai is the acceleration magnitude on tool i, ti is the lifetime exposure duration for tool i, and m = 0, 1, 2, or 4.

Results: For all seven alternative dose measures, an increase in dose was associated with a significant increase in the occurrence of vibration-induced white finger, after adjustment for age and smoking. However, dose measures with high powers of acceleration (m > 1) faired less well than measures in which the weighted or unweighted acceleration, and lifetime exposure duration, were given equal weight (m = 1). Dose determined solely by the lifetime exposure duration (without consideration of the vibration magnitude) gave better predictions than measures with m greater than unity. All measures of dose calculated from the unweighted acceleration gave better predictions than the equivalent dose measures using acceleration frequency-weighted according to current standards.

Conclusions: Since the total duration of exposure does not discriminate between exposures accumulated over the day and those accumulated over years, a linear relation between vibration magnitude and exposure duration seems appropriate for predicting the occurrence of vibration-induced white finger. Poorer predictions were obtained when the currently recommended frequency weighting was employed than when accelerations at all frequencies were given equal weight. Findings suggest that improvements are possible to both the frequency weighting and the time dependency used to predict the development of vibration-induced white finger in current standards.

  • vibration-induced white finger
  • vibration frequency
  • magnitude
  • duration
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon

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