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Hazards due to Specific Physical Influences

Excavator performing clearing work in a forest © Uwe Völkner, FOX photo agency

Specific physical influences within the meaning of this booklet include noise, vibrations, optical radiation, electromagnetic fields, as well as over- and under-pressure.

In this, the term noise refers to any acoustic noise that may result in hearing damage or even in extra-aural hazards, such as due to not hearing warning signals, mental aberration and miscommunication, an increased risk for the cardiovascular system, a reduced performance of the employees.

Vibrations, i.e. mechanical oscillations transferred from objects to the human body include whole-body vibrations, specifically causing back pain and damages to the spine, and hand-arm vibrations that may lead to bone or joint damage, circulatory disorders, or neurological diseases.

Hazards due to optical radiation from artificial or natural sources mainly consist of damages to the eyes and the skin.

The effects of high-frequency electromagnetic fields on employees are determined by thermal effects (microwave effect). Low-frequency fields are mainly characterised by irritant effects on sensory, neural, and muscle cells. In addition to the direct effects, the indirect effects (e.g. discharge currents, electrifications) and the possible influences on devices (such as implants) must be taken into consideration.

Please note: Figure 7.0-1 provides an overview of the electromagnetic spectrum. The range of visible light is at the border between ionising and non-ionising radiation. Electromagnetic fields can be characterised by the variables frequency f and wavelength λ. Both parameters are linked to one another by the speed of light c = λ x f.

Under- and over-pressure influence the inhalation and exhalation, respectively, of breathing gases. Under-pressure at altitudes, in aircrafts, or hypobaric chambers limits the oxygen supply and may result in physiological disorders up to severe altitude sickness and fatal lung and cerebral oedemas, specifically when there is a physical strain at the same time. In the event of over-pressure while diving or in the field of special underwater civil engineering, breathing gases accumulate in the body that, if the pressure is reduced too quickly, may cause perilous physiological disorders and damage of bone and muscle tissues, the circulatory functions, the central nervous system, and the respiratory system.

For further detailed information please refer to our German Website.


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