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Occup Environ Med 68:58-63 doi:10.1136/oem.2009.052373
  • Original article

Hand-arm vibration syndrome among a group of construction workers in Malaysia

  1. Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud2
  1. 1Occupational and Environmental Health Unit, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  2. 2Faculty of Medicine, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ting Anselm Su, Occupational and Environmental Health Unit, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; anselmsuting{at}yahoo.com
  1. Contributorship statement Dr Anselm Su Ting, the main researcher, was involved in all phases of the study, including study design, literature search, conduct of the study, data analysis and final article write up. Dr Victor Hoe Chee Wai supervised the study and reviewed the manuscript. Associate Professor Retneswari Masilamani also supervised the study and reviewed the manuscript. Professor Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud supervised the study, performed statistical analysis and reviewed the manuscript. Mr Mohd Rosdi assisted in vibration measurement.

  • Accepted 17 June 2010
  • Published Online First 8 October 2010

Abstract

Objectives To determine the extent of hand transmitted vibration exposure problems, particularly hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), among construction workers in Malaysia.

Methods A cross-sectional study was conducted on a construction site in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 243 workers were recruited. Questionnaire interviews and hand examinations were administered to 194 respondents. Vibration magnitudes for concrete breakers, drills and grinders were measured using a 3-axis accelerometer. Clinical outcomes were compared and analysed according to vibration exposure status.

Results Vibration total values for concrete breakers, impact drills and grinders were 10.02 ms−2, 7.72 ms−2 and 5.29 ms−2, respectively. The mean 8 h time-weighted hand transmitted vibration exposure, A(8), among subjects on current and previous construction sites was 7.52 (SD 2.68) ms−2 and 9.21 (SD 2.48) ms−2, respectively. Finger tingling, finger numbness, musculoskeletal problems of the neck, finger coldness, abnormal Phalen's test and abnormal light touch sensation were significantly more common in the high vibration exposure group (n=139) than the low–moderate vibration exposure group (n=54). Mean total lifetime vibration dose among exposed subjects was 15.2 (SD 3.2) m2 h3 s−4 (ln scale). HAVS prevalence was 18% and the prevalence ratio of stage 1 and higher disease in the high vibration exposure group versus the low–moderate vibration exposure group was 4.86 (95% CI 1.19 to 19.80).

Conclusions Hand transmitted vibration is a recognisable problem in tropical countries including Malaysia. The current study has identified clinical symptoms and signs suggesting HAVS among construction workers exposed to hand transmitted vibration in a warm environment.

Footnotes

  • Funding This study was partially funded by a Postgraduate Research Fund from the Institute of Research and Consultancy Management, University of Malaya. The funding source had no involvement in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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