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Study finds high vibration levels on some types of farm machinery

Anybody working with farm machinery in Texas must take proper precautions when working with such equipment. However, in some instances, it's the machinery itself that increases the risk of people sustaining work-related injuries. A study funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that whole-body vibration levels on 30 percent of the farm machinery tested exceeded the European Union's "action level" exposure limit for vibrations.

Tractors, combines, forklifts and skid loaders were among the various pieces of farm equipment tested by researchers, who attached sensors to the floors and seats. The concern is that exposure to excessive vibrations could increase workplace injury rates. Researchers looked at how well the seats minimized vibration levels along with the posture of the farm workers when they were on the machinery.

Fifty-six percent of the machines tested met the EU action level, indicating the point at which there are increased health risks. The EU's whole-body vibration exposure limits were used for the study because OSHA does not enforce such standards, although the EU's standards are similar to ones used by some other U.S.-based groups. The study's author notes that whole-body vibration exposure is a significant occupational risk factor for back pain, which is already a common problem among agricultural workers. Tractors and heavy utility vehicles had the highest vibration levels of the equipment tested, and combines had the lowest vibration exposure levels. Researchers recommend regularly checking seat suspension systems as a possible way to reduce vibration exposure issues.

A workplace injury attorney may become involved with issues related to farming machinery injuries if internal efforts to address the problem aren't successful. If a workers' compensation claim related to vibration exposure and back pain is unfairly denied, for example, a lawyer may help a client present the right type of documentation to the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board.

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