Arnot, JW. Vibroacoustic Disease I: The Personal Experience of a Motorman

JW Arnot, Rail Maritime & Transport Union, Oban Shipping Branch
Oban, Argyll, Scotland

Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics, Vol 24. Pt 4. 2002


The aim of this paper is to provide a first-hand account of the development of vibroacoustic disease (VAD) in a motorman. I will describe the physical changes and the various costs incurred during the last five years of my professional activity, as I gradually became ill with VAD. My story is not an isolated case. In fact, VAD may be the cause of long term limiting illnesses in a large number of people who live and work in environments rich in low frequency noise (LFN) (≤ 500 Hz, including infrasound).

Research indicates that a number of affected workers may be significant. Based on my personal experience, I am convinced that if protective solutions were to be implemented, an appreciable improvement would be seen in the number of workers who are off work due to sickness and incapacity. By revealing the cost of illness, I hope to emphasize the need for those exposed to LFN-rich environments to be informed of the risks involved and to be given a list of early symptoms. This would allow them to make their own choices and seek help before permanent and irreversible damage sets in.

VAD is caused by an all-pervading and insidious agent of harm – LFN. Unless the patient is aware of the early symptoms, VAD is difficult to recognise until it is too late; especially since it has not yet reached the mainstream general practitioners, nor the occupational medicine professionals. The sheer number of workers that are possibly being affected by LFN exposure will stress the importance of developing and applying solutions agent this agent of disease.

Download the full paper→

Read the chapter: Effects of Ship Vibration on Humans from the Textbook of Maritime Medicine v2