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ENGINEERING CONTROLS

worker at table saw with hood and guard

Outputs: Research to Practice

Historically, NIOSH has been a leader in applying research into workplace solutions that reduce injury and illness. Research to Practice (r2p) is a NIOSH initiative focused on the transfer and translation of research findings, technologies, and information into highly effective prevention practices and products that are adopted in the workplace.

The goal of r2p is to increase workplace use of effective NIOSH and NIOSH-funded research findings. NIOSH continues to work with our partners to focus research on ways to develop effective products, translate research findings into practice, target dissemination efforts, and evaluate and demonstrate the effectiveness of these efforts in improving worker safety and health.


Engineering Noise Controls for Roof Bolters

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a common occupational illness in the United States with roughly 30 million workers exposed to excessive noise levels that could prove hazardous to their hearing. Studies indicate that 70%-90% of miners have NIHL great enough to be classified as a hearing disability. Research by Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) indicate that roof bolting machine operators are among workers who are overexposed to noise. NIOSH further determined that the drill steel is the primary noise source for the operator. In collaboration with industry, labor, manufacturers, and governmental partners, NIOSH developed a collapsible drill steel enclosure (CDSE) to encapsulate the drill steel during operations and reduce the sound power emissions of roof bolting machines. Several mines have used the CDSE, and operators have provided testimonies that they observe a clear reduction in the noise level of the roof bolting machine. In addition, MSHA has publicly recognized the CDSE as a "promising" noise control technology.


Preventing Tractor Overturn Injuries

One-third of agricultural fatalities result from tractor overturns. In an effort to promote the use of Roll-over Protective Structures (ROPS), the Northeast Center for Agricultural and Occupational Health (NEC) studied risk perceptions, barriers, and motivating factors to tractor retrofitting among farmers in New York State. The results guided a social marketing campaign that was rigorously evaluated by implementing different levels of intervention efforts then comparing retrofit sales across different campaign regions. NEC’s campaign included a retrofitting/ROPS informational hotline for farmers as well as a 70% rebate on the cost of a rollbar, funded by the New York State Legislature. In the first year, more than 1000 farmers expressed interest and 259 completed the retrofit / rebate process. For more information on this r2p in action story and contact information, see NIOSH Protecting Workers in Agriculture document [PDF - 1.6 MB].


Preventing Carbon Monoxide Fatality and Poisonings in Boating

In August 2000, the National Park Service, through the Department of the Interior, requested assistance from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the US Coast Guard to evaluate visitor and employee carbon monoxide (CO) exposures from generators and propulsion engines on houseboats. This initial investigation characterized CO poisonings through epidemiologic data gathering and the measurement of severely hazardous CO concentrations on houseboats at Lake Powell. Since that initial investigation, over 600 boating-related poisonings in 35 states have been identified with over 100 of these poisonings resulting in death. Over 250 of the poisonings occurred on houseboats, with more than 200 of these poisonings attributed to generator exhaust alone.

Initial investigations conducted by NIOSH industrial hygienists and engineers showed very high concentrations of CO on and around houseboats using gasoline-powered generators. Following these investigations, NIOSH worked with major houseboat and generator manufacturers to evaluate novel engineering controls to reduce CO concentrations in occupied areas on houseboats. This work led to collaborations with external partners to evaluate new engineering technologies designed to reduce CO poisonings on many other types of recreational boats (including ski boats and express cruisers). Since the start of this project, new catalyst-based low CO emission generators and stern-drive engines have been developed by manufacturers to help address this issue. This work has been conducted since 2002 under a continuing Interagency agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard.


Engineering Control Guidelines for Hot Mix Asphalt Pavers

Engineering Control Guidelines for Hot Mix Asphalt Pavers were published by NIOSH in 1997. These guidelines originate from a collaborative effort by industry, government, and labor to develop and implement engineering controls for the asphalt paving industry. Initiated by the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), this effort involved five asphalt paver manufacturers who represented more than 80% of the highway-class* paver market. These five manufacturers began independently designing engineering controls for their respective pavers. Through an agreement with the Department of Transportation (DOT), NAPA requested that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) assist the manufacturers with their prototype designs and independently evaluate the performance of each prototype. To facilitate the development of engineering controls, NIOSH engineers designed a protocol for performing the evaluation of prototype engineering controls using qualitative smoke and quantitative tracer gas methods. Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) was released as a tracer gas to quantify the capture efficiency and exhaust volume of each engineering control within a test environment. Using this information, NIOSH researchers recommended modifications designed to improve the performance of engineering controls during actual paving operations. Field testing of the improved controls indicates that these engineering controls can reduce worker exposures to asphalt fumes.

* Self-propelled hot mix asphalt (HMA) pavers weighing 16,000 pounds or more.

In July 1996, NIOSH convened a public meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, to discuss the use of engineering controls for reducing worker exposures to asphalt fumes during paving operations. On the basis of promising preliminary research, representatives of industry and labor wanted to move forward with the field implementation of the engineering controls. This meeting resulted in a draft document entitled Engineering Control Guidelines for Hot Mix Asphalt Pavers, which NIOSH published for public comment in October 1996 [61 Fed. Reg. 51708 (Oct. 3, 1996)]. The draft document applied recommendations for engineering controls to a wide spectrum of new and existing paving equipment. On the basis of the comments from the public, NIOSH modified the approach and divided the effort between new and existing highway- and nonhighway-class pavers. The first priority was to create an engineering control document for new highway-class pavers. As a result, NIOSH created this revised document (Part I). NIOSH intends to address at a later date the application of engineering controls for nonhighway-class pavers and for the retrofit of all existing pavers (Part II).

 

 
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  • Page last reviewed: May 23, 2011
  • Page last updated: July 22, 2008
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