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Whole-body vibration and back pain-related work absence among heavy equipment vehicle mining operators


Objective To determine the association between several whole-body vibration (WBV) exposure estimates and back pain-related work absence.

Methods Exposures (based on the weighted daily root mean square acceleration, A(8); the daily vibration dose value, VDV(8); and the daily equivalent static compression dose, Sed(8)) of 2302 workers during 4 years were estimated using each worker’s monthly vehicle operation records and WBV measurements from 11 different types of heavy equipment vehicles in a large coal mine. Company payroll data provided work absence during the concurrent 4 years of exposure. Cox regression models estimated the associations between the different WBV metrics and time to first work absence related to back pain. An adjusted R2 statistic provided a measure of model fit.

Results All estimated metrics of WBV exposures were positively and significantly associated with back pain-related absence. HRs varied from 2.03 to 12.39 for every 0.21 m/s2 increase in the A(8)-based exposures; from 1.03 to 1.18 for every 1.72 m/s1.75 increase in VDV(8)-based exposures; and from 1.04 to 1.07 for every 0.06 MPa increase in Sed(8)-based exposures. Models using the estimated VDV(8) metric for the z axis fit the data best as measured by the R2 statistic.

Conclusion Higher WBV exposures were associated with back pain-related absences in this population, which appears after a few years of follow-up. Introducing controls to lower exposure levels may help reduce back pain-related work absences.

  • dorsalgia
  • back pain
  • epidemiology
  • vibration metrics
  • cox-regression

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