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Prolonged full body vibration may cause injury

Missouri residents may be interested in knowing what a study found about the effect of farm machinery on the health of the workers who use them. The study showed that within two hours of operation, 30 percent of the tested equipment reached what the European Union refers to as "action level," signifying a risk to the operator's health.

These tests were done on 112 pieces of farm machinery. This included things like combines, all-terrain vehicles, tractors, forklifts and skid loaders. Sensors were attached to the floors and to the seats of these vehicles. The sensors on the floors made it possible for researchers to determine how good of a job the seats did at minimizing vibration levels. The study also looked at the posture of the individuals who participated in the study while on the machines.

Of the machines tested, 56 percent posed an increased health risk according to the European Union's standards. These limits are reached with only eight hours of use. The standards that the European Union uses for potentially dangerous whole body vibration exposure are very close to those used by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. Currently, OSHA does not have a similar standard in place.

For some agricultural workers, their back pain is connected to whole body vibration. When an agricultural worker spends hours operating machinery, they run the risk of back pain with increased frequency. The pain could reach a point where it becomes chronic or severe. Medical costs for treating this type of pain can be expensive.

It may be recommendable for farm workers to regularly check the seat suspension systems on the machines they operate. They should be well greased, properly adjusted and properly suited for the operator's weight.

If a farm worker believes that the equipment they used at work has caused them injury, they may wish to speak to an attorney to discuss worker's compensation options. Worker's compensation claims do not require proof of negligence on the part of the employer. What an attorney may work with their client in proving is whether the worker suffered injury while they were on the job. They might also discuss whether filing a civil claim as opposed to worker's compensation is in their client's best interest.

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