Mining Publication: Facilitating Task-Based Noise Exposure Assessments Utilizing PDAs
The difficulties inherent in hand-recording, editing, and coding observational data can limit both its utility and effectiveness as a tool in exposure assessments. Recently, these limitations were noted during a noise exposure assessment of drill rig operators working at surface mines, where rapid changes in drilling operations and rig operator behaviors occurred simultaneously or in quick succession. In response to these limitations, researchers conducted a feasibility study using a method of collecting observational data that entails a handheld personal digital assistant (PDA) and an observational software system originally developed to record animal behaviors. Field observations were captured using the observational software system and basic PDA operation. These field observations were then merged with personal noise dosimetry readings, and the combined data were graphed to quickly assess the associations between observational events and variations in exposure levels. Once these associations were verified, exposure values could be computed for combinations of rig operations and operator activities. The use of PDAs to record workplace observations allows for greater ease, speed, and accuracy when capturing workplace behaviors and events compared to traditional methods. Furthermore, PDAs provide greater detail during exposure analysis. Limitations of the process are also discussed.