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Contribution of vibration to musculoskeletal disorders in New Zealand

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The aim of this study was to remind Australasian doctors about the importance of vibration as an occupational exposure capable of causing musculoskeletal disease. This is a common problem in the northern hemisphere, but only four reports have been found in Australasian published work. Nine cases are reported together with a summary of vibration disorders and their nomenclature. Of the nine cases reviewed, six arose from compensation disputes and two resulted in Department of Labour prosecutions. Three patients had hand symptoms arising from using vibrating concrete drills, two patients used heavy floor-polishing machines in hospitals and three used heavy metal polishing machines. One had general pain from whole-body vibration in a digging machine. Minor circulatory signs were found in two patients, but cold exposure was not noted. Vibration disease is underreported in New Zealand. Doctors must question patients about vibration exposure in taking an occupational history, as vibration is an important factor in the causation of occupational musculoskeletal disorders. As vibration can be controlled, illness can be prevented.

Keywords: musculoskeletal disorder; occupation; vibration

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Rehabilitation Centre, Palmerston North Hospital, Palmerston North 2: Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University, Wellington Campus, Wellington, New Zealand

Publication date: December 1, 2007


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