In the 1950s, the introduction of portable power tools into the production process of many industries began on a large scale around the world and resulted in many cases of occupational vibration syndrome after the 1960s. There was an urgent world wide need to undertake preventive steps, medical assessment and therapy. At the end of 1964, our investigation began in Japanese national forests, and then in mines and stone quarries. The Japanese Association of Industrial Hygiene established a “Committee for Local Vibration Hazards” (1965), and many researchers in the medical and technological fields joined this Committee. After 10 years, a comprehensive system for the prevention of vibration syndrome was established in the national forestry. It consists of 1) improvements in vibrating tools, 2) hygienic regulation of operation time with an alternative working system, 3) health care system involving early medical checks, early therapy and age limitations in operation of vibrating tools, 4) protection against cold in the workplace and while commuting, and 5) education and training for health and safety. The prevention strategy for vibration syndrome in our national forests is to establish a comprehensive prevention system in cooperation among researchers in the medical and technological fields, workers and administration. The Ministry of Labor presented that strategy as good model of prevention for other industries (1976). New designs for this model were developed and adapted according to the special conditions of each industry. Thus comprehensive system for prevention of vibration syndrome developed successfully from the late 1970s to 1980s in Japan.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health