Whole body vibration (WBV) is caused by vibration transmitted by work equipment or by carrying out work in areas subject to vibration. WBV differs from Hand Arm Vibration (HAV) in that it affects the whole body as opposed to just the arms and hands.

HAV is generated by hand tools while WBV is usually linked to workplace transport and mobile work equipment e.g. tractors, fork-lift trucks, cranes, excavators, dumper trucks, ride-on lawnmowers and quad bikes. They can all transmit vibration through the seat and controls; some fixed equipment will also transmit vibration to the operator and people nearby through the floor or surrounding structures.

Regular, long term exposure to high levels of WBV is linked to lower back pain. It is also known to cause, stomach and digestive problems, circulatory problems, fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability, headache, insomnia and impotence due to effects on the nervous system.

Employers have a legal duty to ensure that their workforce do not suffer health risks as a result of exposure to hand arm vibration (HAV) or WBV. Regulations set both Exposure Limit Values and Exposure Action Values.

See also: Hand Arm Vibration