Whole-Body Vibration to the Spine

Whole-body vibration (WBV) to the spine is an occupational hazard for many railroad workers. Statistics regarding Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) lawsuits reveal many cumulative trauma injuries among railroad workers who were exposed to whole-body vibration to the spine. Working on a train, whether a freight train or a passenger train, can expose an individual to years of whole-body vibration capable of doing great damage to the body, and it has long been known that the most significant long-term effect of whole-body vibration is spinal damage.

Many studies have been conducted to explore the effects of whole-body vibration on workers (whether construction industry workers, truck, bus and forklift drivers, railroad workers, or others). A 1987 meta-analysis of 19 epidemiological studies on the effects of whole-body vibration found that long-term repetitive WBV stress is harmful to the spinal system.

Injuries to the Spine

The spine's role in the body is crucial, as the main pathway for neural signals from the brain to the rest of the body. Damage to the spine can take many forms, all of which can range from mild to crippling in severity, and from temporary to long-lasting or permanent injury, including:

  • back pain
  • loss of sensation
  • paralysis
  • coupling injuries

The damage wreaked by whole-body vibration to the spine depends on a number of factors, including the vibration's frequency, amplitude and acceleration; the duration of the exposure (during a single workday, and over the course of a worker's career); and whether the railroad worker spends most or all of the workday standing, moving about, sitting, or in a combination of postures.

The railroad industry's management has become acutely aware of the cumulative trauma injuries caused by whole-body vibration on the job. Some steps have been taken to lessen the dangers of whole-body injuries to the spine. The ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) proposed that the following three standards be used to gauge acceptable human exposure to whole-body vibration:

  • a fatigue-decreased proficiency boundary
  • an exposure limit, and
  • a reduced comfort boundary

These standards are not always met. Railroad workers who have suffered a whole-body vibration injury to the spine can explore the possibility of a FELA lawsuit to obtain compensation for their losses.

Schedule a Consultation with a FELA Lawyer

If you've suffered a whole-body vibration injury to the spine, you should contact our FELA lawyers to schedule a free review of your case. You may be eligible to recover compensation for your suffering. To learn more, please contact our FELA lawyers today.