Mining Publication: Underground Evaluation of Coated Flight Bars for a Continuous Mining Machine
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the most common occupational disease among workers in the mining industry. Previous studies conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have shown that approximately 90% of coal miners and 49% of metal/non-metal miners have a hearing impairment by age 50. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has determined that continuous mining machines rank first among all equipment in underground coal mining whose operators exceed 100% noise dosage. The conveying system is one of the principal noise sources on continuous mining machines, due to metal on metal impacts that occur between chain flights and the conveyor deck. A highly durable polyurethane coating has been developed for the chain flights to decrease noise generated by these impacts. A continuous mining machine retro-fitted with coated flight bars has achieved overall sound level reductions of 5-7 dB in a laboratory setting. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of this engineering noise control in reducing the noise exposure of continuous mining machine operators in an underground coal mine environment. The results show that the operator of a continuous mining machine utilizing the coated flights receives a predicted 35% reduction in total work shift noise dose.