Hand-arm vibration exposure in rock drill workers. A comparison between measurements with hand-attached and tool-attached accelerometers
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonAnnals of Work Exposures and Health. 2021, 65 (9), 1123-1132. 10.1093/annweh/wxab051
Objectives To assess the hazard of tool vibrations, we need valid exposure measurements. The use of hand-attached accelerometers (vibration sensors) to measure hand-arm vibrations (HAVs) has become a popular approach. However, according to International Standard ISO 5349-2, the preferred attachment of accelerometers is at the tool handle. We compared measures of HAV between hand- and tool-attached accelerometers in rock drilling. Methods We measured HAV in five rock drillers using jackleg drills in normal working operations with simultaneous measures of both hand-attached and tool-attached accelerometers. Five to seven measurement cycles of 15 s were executed on each worker, resulting in a total of 29 measurement cycles. To identify possible differences in working technique, we recorded videos of tool handle handgrips during drilling. Results There was a significant difference (9.5 m s−2; P ≤ 0.05) in vibration magnitudes measured by the tool-attached accelerometers compared with the hand-attached accelerometers. The hand-attached accelerometer showed a lower vibration magnitude for all workers (range of difference: 2.3–14.6). The variation between the two accelerometer attachments was larger between workers than within workers (ICC = 0.68). Conclusions For measurements of HAV from jackleg drills, the use of hand-attached accelerometers may cause a lower recorded vibration level compared with tool-attached accelerometers. This difference is likely to vary depending on how workers grip the tool handle, and a misclassification of exposure will occur if workers grip the tool handle in a way that makes the accelerometer lose contact with the vibrating surface. Individual differences in how workers grip the tool handles should be considered when assessing HAV.