Mining Publication: Evaluations of a noise control for roof bolting machines
In collaboration with Kennametal Inc. and Corry Rubber Corporation, the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed a drill bit isolator to address noise overexposures associated with roof bolting machines in underground coal mines. NIOSH laboratory studies confirmed that the drill bit isolator reduces noise during drilling. Field studies were needed to confirm that a noise reduction could be obtained under working conditions and that the device was sufficiently durable. This paper reports results of field tests of the device conducted at five underground coal mines. Noise reduction was assessed by comparing the operator’s noise exposure during drilling with and without the drill bit isolator. Durability was assessed by recording the number of holes and total feet drilled with each bit isolator until either the test period ended or the device failed. The results from these tests showed that the device is an effective noise control in a mine environment. The field-tested drill bit isolators provided a noise reduction of 3-5 dB(A). Of nine devices tested for durability, five exceeded 610 m (2,000 ft) drilled and two exceeded 762 m (2,500 ft) drilled before failure. Durability issues found in the field tests led to final production optimizations that have resulted in a commercially available product for drilling with 35-mm- (1.3-in.-) diameter roof bits and hexagonal drill steels.