Vibrotactile perception and effects of short-term exposure to hand-arm vibration.Ann Occup Hyg. 2009 Jul; 53(5):539-47.AO
This study clarifies whether the established frequency weighting procedure for evaluating exposure to hand-transmitted vibration can effectively evaluate the temporary changes in vibrotactile perception thresholds due to pre-exposure to vibration. In addition, this study investigates the relationship between changes of the vibrotactile perception thresholds and the normalized energy-equivalent frequency-weighted acceleration. The fingers of 10 healthy subjects, five male and five female, were exposed to vibration under 16 conditions with a combination of different frequencies, intensities, and exposure times. The vibration frequencies were 31.5 and 125 Hz and exposure lasted between 2 and 16 min. According to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 5349-1, the energy-equivalent frequency-weighted acceleration for the experimental time of 16 min is 2.5 or 5.0 m s(-2) root-mean-square, corresponding to a 8-h equivalent acceleration, A(8), of approximately 0.5 and 0.9 m s(-2), respectively. A measure of the vibrotactile perception thresholds was conducted before the different exposures to vibration. Immediately after the vibration exposure, the acute effect was measured continuously on the exposed index finger for the first 75 s, followed by 30 s of measures every minute for a maximum of 10 min. If the subject's thresholds had not recovered, the measures continued for a maximum of 30 min with measurements taken every 5 min. Pre-exposure to vibration significantly influenced vibrotactile thresholds. This study concludes that the influence on the thresholds depends on the frequency of the vibration stimuli. Increased equivalent frequency-weighted acceleration resulted in a significant change in threshold, but the thresholds were unaffected when changes in the vibration magnitude were expressed as the frequency-weighted acceleration or the unweighted acceleration. Moreover, the frequency of the pre-vibration exposure significantly influenced (up to 25 min after exposure) recovery time of the vibrotactile thresholds. This study shows that the frequency weighting procedure in ISO 5349-1 is unable to predict the produced acute changes in the vibrotactile perception. Moreover, the results imply that the calculation of the 'energy-equivalent' frequency-weighted acceleration does not reflect the acute changes of the vibration perception thresholds due to pre-exposure to vibration. Furthermore, when testing for the vibrotactile thresholds, exposure to vibration on the day of a test might influence the results. Until further knowledge is obtained, the previous practice of 3 h avoidance of vibration exposure before assessment is recommended.