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A descriptive study of women injured by hand-arm vibration
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Clinical Medicine.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational Medicine.
2002 (English)In: Annals of Occupational Hygiene, ISSN 0003-4878, Vol. 46, no 3, 299-307 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study was to describe the symptoms and the prognosis of vibration injuries in women. The investigation was based on a study of 374 women who had reported an injury due to hand-arm vibration to the Social Insurance Office or had received financial compensation from the Swedish Labor Market Insurance scheme during 1988-1997. Information on, for example, self-rated health symptoms and vibration exposure was collected by means of a questionnaire. On average, the first symptoms started after 7 yr of exposure and the first visit to a doctor took place after 11 yr. Neurological symptoms developed after a shorter period of exposure compared to vascular symptoms, 6.8 and 9.2 yr, respectively. The prevalence of numbness at the time of reporting the injury was 91% and the prevalence of white fingers was reported by 54%. The occupational group with the highest prevalence of vibration injuries was dental technicians. Two thirds of the women had stopped using vibrating machines in their work. Among the women who suffered from white fingers when they reported the injury, 50% declared impairment or no improvement of the symptoms. One woman in five was retired and the same number of women had retrained due to the occupational injury.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. Vol. 46, no 3, 299-307 p.
Keyword [en]
hand–arm vibration, white fingers, carpal tunnel syndrome, women, questionnaire
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-4301PubMedID: 12176717OAI: diva2:143328
Available from: 2004-11-30 Created: 2004-11-30 Last updated: 2010-02-25Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Hand-arm vibration and working women: Consequences and affecting factors
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Hand-arm vibration and working women: Consequences and affecting factors
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The use of hand-held vibrating tools may lead to hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), a condition with vascular, neurological and musculoskeletal symptoms. Vibrating tools are used in several occupations in which women can be found, e.g. by metal- and wood workers, drivers, and dental personnel. The risk of women developing HAVS is hard to estimate, as little research has been done on women exposed to hand-arm vibration. The overall aim of this thesis has been to fill this gap of knowledge. It is based upon one questionnaire study and one interview study on women who have reported an occupational injury related to hand-arm vibration. The thesis also comprises two laboratory studies of female and male subjects exposed to hand-arm vibration from a handle.

The questionnaire and the interview study showed that the women had a high prevalence of symptoms, such as numbness, weakness, pain and white fingers. Neurological symptoms were more common and developed after shorter time of exposure compared to vascular symptoms. The symptoms had a considerable impact on all domains of the women’s lives, not only on their physical functioning, such as the ability to work, to participate in leisure activities and to do household activities, but also on their relationships and identity. Forty per cent of the women had retired or retrained due to the injury. Dental personnel had the highest relative risk of vibration injuries.

In one of the laboratory studies 12 female and 12 male subjects were exposed to vibration in two vibration directions, (Xh and Zh) and at two vibration levels. The absorbed power was higher in the Zh direction and at the higher vibration level. The volumes of the subjects’ arms affected the power absorption in the Zh direction. There were no indications of a gender difference in the absorption of power.

In the other laboratory study, the effect of handle size, vibration level, anthropometric measures and maximal grip force on the ability to perform a precision task was studied in 20 female and 20 male subjects. Ratings of difficulty and discomfort were made after each test round. The results indicate that the male subjects performed better in all the tests, but no gender difference was seen in the ratings. The higher vibration level resulted in higher ratings of discomfort. In the female subjects, the handle size, the anthropometric measures and maximal grip force affected both the performance and the ratings.

In conclusion, the studies indicate that vibration injuries are severely disabling and influence many parts of the sufferer’s life. Vibration injuries are preventable, and the extensive consequences found underscore the importance of preventive action. This can be done by informing employees about the risks, and by giving them the opportunity to choose suitable machines and to practice work tasks when starting a new job.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Folkhälsa och klinisk medicin, 2004. 55 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 931
Public health, HAV, vibration, women, injuries, power absorption, handle, gender, Folkhälsomedicin
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-381 (URN)91-7305-770-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2004-12-16, Stora föreläsningssalen, Arbetslivsinstitutet, Peter Laestadius väg, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2004-11-30 Created: 2004-11-30 Last updated: 2010-02-24Bibliographically approved

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