Risk exposure to vibration and noise in the use of agricultural track-laying tractors

Filippa Bono 2,  
Department of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, University of Palermo, Italy
Department of Economic Business and Statistical Sciences, University of Palermo, Italy
Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
Ann Agric Environ Med 2016;23(4):591–597
Human exposure to mechanical vibration may represent a significant risk factor for exposed workers in the agricultural sector. Also, noise in agriculture is one of the risk factors to be taken into account in the evaluation of workers’ health and safety. One of the major sources of discomfort for the workers operating a tractors is the noise to which they are exposed during work. The aim of this study was to evaluate the risk of exposure to whole-body vibration for the operator driving track-laying tractors in vineyard orchard and the noise level. The experimental tests were performed with six different track-laying tractors coupled with the same rototilling machine. The results showed that the vibration values of track-laying tractors coupled to rototilling machine, referred to the 8-hour working day, were always higher than 0.5 m s[sup]-2[/sup], the daily exposure action value established by Directive 2002/44/EC of the European Parliament. The daily noise exposure levels always exceeded the exposure limit value of 87 dB(A) established by Directive 2003/10/EC of the European Parliament. The ANOVA repeated measures model showed that the factor ‘site’, namely, the soil characteristics, did not influence the vibration level on the X and Y-axes of the tractors measured, regardless of their age. In the Z-axis, the vibration level was enhanced as the soil structure increased. As tractor age increased, the influence of soil characteristics was less important. In term of the age of the tractor and the number of hours worked, it was possible to identify three risk classes, which were up to 3,000 hours worked and offered a low risk; from 3,000 – 6,000 hours worked with a medium risk, and over 6,000 hours with a high risk level.