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Exposure to mechanical vibration

Exposure to mechanical vibration



Directive 2002/44/EC — minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (vibration)


  • It aims to ensure the protection of the safety and health of workers from risks related to mechanical vibration.
  • It sets out mandatory minimum health and safety standards.
  • EU countries can make these more stringent if they wish.
  • It complements Directive 89/391/EEC on introducing measures to encourage improvements in workers’ health and safety.


Employers must:

  • assess and, if necessary, measure the levels of mechanical vibration to which workers are exposed;
  • keep an eye on the possible physical impact machinery might have depending on working practices, type of equipment and conditions of use;
  • use appropriate means and methods to measure the impact of vibrations;
  • ensure competent individuals carry out the assessments and measurements at ‘suitable intervals’;
  • keep a record of the findings for possible future consultation;
  • pay particular attention, when making a risk assessment, to certain factors, notably:
    • level, type and duration of exposure,
    • possible indirect effects,
    • information provided by the equipment’s manufacturer,
    • the existence of replacement equipment;
  • keep the risk assessment up-to-date;
  • identify the measures required to reduce risks;
  • introduce technical and organisational changes if the vibration limits are exceeded. These can include:
    • other working methods or better-designed equipment,
    • installing seats and handles on equipment to reduce pressure on the user’s body or arms,
    • maintenance programmes,
    • rethinking the design and layout of workplaces and work stations,
    • limiting the duration and intensity of exposure to the vibrations,
    • implementing appropriate work schedules and rest periods,
    • providing clothing to protect exposed workers from cold and damp;
  • provide relevant information and training to staff. This should include:
    • measures taken to eliminate risks or reduce them to a minimum,
    • details of exposure limits,
    • results of the assessment and measurement exercises,
    • possible injury risks and how these should be detected and reported,
    • safe working practices,
    • regular consultation and participation of staff and/or their representatives.

EU countries must put in place measures to ensure the appropriate health surveillance of workers, particularly when:

  • a link can be established between vibrations and an identifiable illness or adverse health effects;
  • the probability exists that the illness or adverse effects are due to specific working conditions;
  • tested techniques can be used to detect an illness or health impacts.

When a doctor considers a worker has an identifiable disease or suffers from ill health due to vibrations:

  • the employee is informed and advised on any health surveillance that might be necessary,
  • the employer is informed and must take action to eliminate or reduce the risks identified.

EU countries may exempt sea and air transport from the directive provided certain conditions are met.

The directive sets different exposure action values depending on whether the vibrations affect a user’s arm and hand or their whole body over a typical 8-hour day.


It has applied since 6 July 2002 and had to become law in the EU countries by 6 July 2005.


Frequent use of heavy vibrating machinery at work, if not carefully monitored, can damage a user’s muscles, bones, breathing and even brain. The legislation strikes a balance between protecting users and not imposing unnecessary administrative, financial and legal burdens on small and medium-sized businesses.

For more information, see:


Directive 2002/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (vibration) (sixteenth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC) — Joint Statement by the European Parliament and the Council (OJ L 177, 6.7.2002, pp. 13-20)

Successive amendments and changes to Directive 2002/44/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work (OJ L 183, 29.6.1989, pp. 1-8)

Successive amendments to Directive 89/391/EEC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

last update 26.11.2018