Back injury can be caused by vibrations through the body. Regular exposure to whole-body vibration (WBV) can lead to back pain and damage. The longer the exposure, the greater the chance that you will suffer a back injury.
Back injury is significantly more likely among workers exposed to WBV if they are using unsprung seats. Damped seats reduce the risk of spinal damage.
Exposure to WBV itself is not the only cause of back pain.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publication Control back-pain risks from whole-body vibration – advice for employers on the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 says that the reasons for back pain can include:
- poor design of controls, making it difficult for the driver to operate the machine or vehicle easily, or to see properly without twisting or stretching;
- incorrect adjustment by the driver of the seat position and hand and foot controls, so that it is necessary to continually twist, bend, lean and stretch to operate the machine;
- sitting for long periods without being able to change position;
- poor driver posture;
- repeated manual handling and lifting of loads by the driver;
- excessive exposure to WBV, particularly to shocks; and
- repeatedly climbing into or jumping down from high cabs or ones that are difficult to get in and out of.
The advice also says the risk increases where the driver or operator is exposed to two or more of these factors together.