Mining Publication: Summary of Longwall and Continuous Miner Section Noise Studies in Underground Coal Mines
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in mine workers, especially underground coal miners, continues to be a problem in the mining industry. The recently enacted MSHA noise standard, Part 62 - Occupational Noise Exposure (Federal Register, 1999), is aimed at reducing NIHL in the mining industry. The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is conducting a cross-sectional survey of noise sources and worker noise exposures to address NIHL in various aspects of coal mining including surface mining, coal preparation plants and underground mining. In underground bituminous coal mining, noise surveys, consisting of full-shift worker noise exposure, time-motion studies and equipment noise profiling, have been completed on longwall and continuous miner sections in six underground coal mines. The studies revealed widely varying shift-to-shift worker exposures, with workers in certain occupations routinely exposed to potentially hazardous levels of noise. A summary of these studies is reported, including worker dose, source/dose relationships and equipment noise profiles.