Mining Publication: The Evolution of Drill Bit and Chuck Isolators to Reduce Roof Bolting Machine Drilling Noise
Among underground coal miners, hearing loss remains one of the most common occupational illnesses. To address this problem, the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (NIOSH OMSHR) conducts research to reduce the noise emission of underground coal mining equipment, an example of which is the roof bolting machine. Field studies show that, on average, drilling noise is the loudest noise that roof bolting machine operators would be exposed to, and it contributes significantly to the operators’ noise exposure. OMSHR has determined that the drill steel and chuck radiate a significant amount of noise during drilling. OMSHR and the Corry Rubber Corporation (CRC) have developed a bit isolator that breaks the steel-to-steel link between the drill bit and drill steel and a chuck isolator that breaks the mechanical connection between the drill steel and the chuck. This effectively reduces the noise radiated by the drill steel and chuck and in turn reduces the noise exposure of roof bolter operators. This paper documents the evolution of the bit isolator and chuck isolator. Laboratory testing confirms that production bit and chuck isolators reduce the A-weighted sound level generated during drilling by 3.7 to 6.6 dB.