Last Updated: January 6, 2019

Definition - What does Vibration mean?

Vibration is an oscillating or other periodic movement of an object as it is forced out of a state of equilibrium. In the workplace, machines, tools, and other powered devices may produce vibrations to which an employee is exposed. This exposure to vibration may cause harm to the employee over time, resulting in musculoskeletal disorders or other repetitive stress complications. Vibration exposure is one of the factors often considered by ergonomists when managing ergonomics planning and companies when working with job design.

WorkplaceTesting explains Vibration

Vibration is the movement of a body around a fixed point. Vibrations can be either regular and periodic, or random in occurrence. Machines usually produce regular vibrations. Vibrations are measured in terms of the intensity and frequency (force and speed) of the movement. An object's vibration cycle is measured over the course of its movement from its highest deviation from a fixed point to the lowest and back to the fixed point. The force of the vibration is measured in terms of amplitude and acceleration.

The human body is more sensitive to some vibration frequencies than others. Thus when evaluating the use of tools in the workplace, these frequencies become relevant. The duration of an employee's exposure to vibration and the muscle groups involved are also relevant when assessing risk. Exposure to hand and arm vibration in the workplace can result in a worker developing vibration-induced white finger (VWF) or hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Whole body vibration (HBV) may cause fatigue, stomach upset, headaches, and other symptoms sometimes referred to as vibration sickness.

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