We are studying the occupational and environmental working conditions and ergonomic hazards in the American railroad industry. In order to understand what causes injuries, dibilitating illnesses and improve the working conditions, we engage in research focusing on the ergonomic conditions in rail bound vehicles and off-road vehicles, with emphasis on the exposure to whole-body vibration and the consequences of such exposures for the musculoskeletal system. Back and Neck injuries are very common findings in clinical studies of rail road workers - and this is not "age related degeneration" as many people may think!
On our website, you can find abstracts of our peer reviewed publications on the issues of whole-body vibration assessment in locomotives and other rail bound vehicles, and health consequences of such exposures.
Our clinics are located in New York, and we specialize in the clinical evaluation of occupational related diseases.
Eckardt Johanning, M.D., M.Sc.
Working conditions, Ergonomics, and Whole-Body Vibration.
Whole-body vibration (WBV) is a physical stressor and has been linked with a variety of occupational health disorders, especially of the musculoskeletal system, the spine and lower back. Two forms of vibration exposure relevant for acute or chronic occupational health problems are known: Whole-body vibration and segmental or hand-transmitted vibration. Long-term whole-body vibration stemming from engines and vehicles has been identified as an important mechanical stressor causing early and accelerated degenerative spine diseases, leading to back pain and spine disorders such as prolapsed discs. Poor body posture, inadequate seat support and muscle fatigue are likely co-factors in the pathogenesis of musculoskeletal disorders of the spine in operators/drivers. High prevalence of back pain, early degenerative changes of the spine and herniated lumbar disc problems have been consistently reported among vibration exposed occupational groups: tractor drivers, truckers and interstate bus drivers, crane or earth moving equipment operators and helicopter pilots. But also among operators of rail-vehicles (i.e., locomotive crews in the railroad and subway trains) with relatively lower vertical but higher lateral vibration and frequent high shocks (irregular vibration) the prevalence of back disorders tends to be higher.
NEW: Whole-body vibration-related health disorders in occupational medicine – an international comparison published inERGONOMICS 2015
Practitioner Summary: Workers with whole-body vibration exposure report a variety of physical disorders. Health and safety providers may not recognise such injuries, or may be unfamiliar with exposure assessment and prevention. This review addresses health issues, exposure assessment and an international review of compensation criteria, trends and prevention efforts.