Mining Publication: Assessment of Equipment Operator’s Noise Exposure in Western Underground Gold and Silver Mines
An assessment of U.S. western hard-rock miners' noise exposures was conducted as part of a multi-year National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) survey of noise exposures in each sector of the mining industry. Noise from selected mining equipment and operator noise exposures were measured, analyzed, and tabulated for dissemination to the participating sites and are being used to direct NIOSH research and interventions to address the greatest noise hazards. Eighty-two noise dosimeter measurements were obtained, along with time-motion studies as the miners operated hard-rock mining machines. Ninety-six percent of the operators had daily noise doses that exceeded the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s permissible exposure level. The average gold miner dosages while operating the following equipment were: haul trucks - 261%, load-haul-dumps (LHDs) - 235%, single boom drills - 221%, bolters - 214%, and dual boom drills - 163%. The worst exposure level was a silver miner with a daily dose of 873%. Time-motion data showed that this miner’s exposure accumulated most rapidly while operating a jack-leg drill. These results will be used to help prioritize noise control development by NIOSH and other partners.