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Noise exposure and overhead power line safety hazards at surface drilling sites.

NIOSH 2005 Nov; :1-10
Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common occupational diseases in the United States. Working around loud noise can lead to hearing loss. Hearing loss makes it harder to understand the machine's audio cues that tell you such things as when to add or reduce air pressure, drill faster or slower, or if the drill bit is broken. The drill rig's compressor, engine, cooling fan, and drill rod are noise sources that can expose workers to noise levels of 90 db(A) and above. Wearing hearing protection every day at the worksite will help to lower your exposure to loud noise. NIOSH has developed a partial cab design that can be retrofitted onto drilling rigs. Field tests have shown that the partial cab can reduce sound levels at the operator's ear by as much as 8 dB(A) while hammer drilling. Take these steps to lower your noise exposure at the worksite: (1) move 6-12 ft away from the cooling fan, rig compressor, engine, or drill road when not working on these rig parts, (2) consistently wear hearing protection devices, e.g., ear plugs, earmuffs, or canal caps, and (3) know OSHA regulations on noise exposure levels. Electrocution is the leading cause of on-the-job death for water well drillers. Most overhead power lines are not insulated. They often operate at several thousand volts or higher. If your drill rig or hoist truck hits a power line, any person touching this equipment and the ground at the same time will be severely injured or killed. Always look around the jobsite for nearby power lines. Avoid working near any lines, including service drops. OSHA regulations at 29 CFR 1910.333 require that you stay at least 10 ft away from power lines up to 50,000 volts. Play it safe--keep all parts of your equipment at least 35 ft away from power lines. Never store supplies or park equipment under or near power lines. When raising or lowering the mast, stand on the operator's platform. Use your helper as a lookout to make sure the mast is always at least 10 ft from any power lines. Be sure that winch and hoist cables will remain at least 10 ft from power lines during all drilling and well maintenance operations. If you are on board a drill rig or hoist truck that is energized due to contact with an overhead power line, try to move the mast or boom at least 10 ft away from the lines. If the equipment can't be moved but you must get off because it is on fire, never touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Jump clear of the rig and land upright with your feet close together. Move away with short, shuffling steps or by hopping.
Hearing-conservation; Hearing-loss; Hearing-protection; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Noise-sources; Noise-levels; Noise-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-health; Safety-research; Water-well-drillers; Drillers; Drill-rigs; Noise; Hazards; Electrical-safety; Electricity; Electrical-equipment; Electrical-systems; Accidents; Safety-practices; Occupational-diseases; Electrocutions; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Workers
NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236
Publication Date
Document Type
Information Circular; Numbered Publication
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
(NIOSH) 2006-113; IC-9485
NIOSH Division
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health