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Hazard, Risk and Remedy information adapted from Safe Work Australia material. Definition of Vibration herein may not represent a legal definition.

Whole-body vibration (WBV) is vibration transmitted to the whole body by the surface supporting it (i.e. via a seat or floor). It is commonly experienced by drivers, operators and passengers in vehicles and machines when travelling over uneven surfaces. Vibration may also affect a limb or area that doesn’t include the entire body.

The transmission of vibration to the body is dependent on body posture. The effects of vibration are complex. Exposure to vibration causes motions and forces within the human body that may cause discomfort, adversely affect performance, cause health effect or aggravate pre-existing conditions or present a health and safety risk.


The longer a worker is exposed to vibration, the greater the risk of health effects and musculoskeletal disorders. The most commonly reported disorder from exposure to vibration is lower-back pain.

Epidemiological studies of long-term exposure to vibration have shown evidence for risk to the lumbar spine and the neck and shoulder. Results of epidemiological studies also show a higher prevalence rate of low-back pain, herniated disc and early degeneration of the spine in excessive vibration-exposed workers.

Exposure to vibration may also cause or exacerbate other health or safety effects such as cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine and metabolic changes, digestive problems, reproductive organ damage, impairment of vision, balance or both, interference with activities and discomfort that could lead to accidents.


Work involving vibrations should be consulted with those effected, in addition those effected should be involved in the risk management process. Successful vibration exposure reduction usually requires a combination of control measures. Such measures include but aren’t limited to;

  • Modifying the process to eliminate the task or the risk
  • Redesigning the task or the equipment to reduce vibration exposure
  • Buying machines or vehicles that are designed to reduce the vibration transmitted to the operator
  • Improving and maintaining road surfaces
  • Implementing a seat maintenance program to ensure vibration dampened seats are maintained in good condition
  • Implementing speed limits
  • Implementing regular work breaks, posture changes or job rotation to reduce exposure time
  • Providing training, information and supervision on adjusting and operating equipment, including seats to reduce exposure.


Information SourceContents
Code of Practice - How to Manage Work Health and Safety RisksThis code provides practical guidance for persons who have duties under the WHS Act and Regulations to manage risks to health and safety
Safe Work Australia - Factsheet - Whole-body vibrationGeneral information regarding the risks of vibration for workers
Safe Work Australia - National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance2008 survey to determine the current nature and extent of Australian workers exposure to vibration
Safe Work Australia - Implementation and Effectiveness of the European Directive Relating to Vibration in the Workplace2012 research report examining the examining the development and the feasibility of a model code of practice on controlling the risks of vibration at work
UK Health & Safety Executive - Vibration at work

UK Health & Safety Executive - Hand-arm vibration at work: A brief guide

General information on managing risks involving vibration in the workplace
Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Cth) - Part 4.2 Hazardous Manual TasksInformation on the regulations that apply to hazardous manual tasks for agencies and licensees governed under Commonwealth WHS legislation


Information sourceWhat it contains
Incident notification - Part 3, Section 35 to 37 of the Work, Health and Safety Act (2011)The legislative requirements for incident notification to Comcare
Comcare - Guide to incident notificationHelps you decide whether you need to notify Comcare of an injury, illness or dangerous incident under the WHS Act
Page last updated: 31 Mar 2016