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Mining Project: Noise Controls for Jumbo Drills Used in Metal/Nonmetal Mines

Principal Investigator
Start Date10/1/2013

To develop durable noise controls that reduce the noise exposure of jumbo drill operators and facilitate the commercialization of the controls to make them available for all miners.

Topic Area

Research Summary

Jumbo drill operators are exposed to some of the highest noise levels in metal/nonmetal mining. In the worst cases, they can experience noise levels in excess of 105 dB(A). In such instances they are overexposed to noise in less than 60 minutes and are highly likely to incur permanent hearing loss.

To help address this problem, this project has three research aims, as follows:

  1. Determine the most significant contributors to the noise generated by jumbo drills during operating conditions.
  2. Develop durable engineering noise controls for jumbo drills that focus on the most significant noise-generating mechanisms and reduce jumbo drill operator exposures.
  3. Facilitate the commercialization of the engineering noise controls developed for jumbo drills.

This project seeks to develop noise controls that reduce exposure while not interfering with effective operation of the jumbo drill. Engineering noise controls will be developed to reduce the sound levels generated by jumbo drills. The effectiveness of these controls will be evaluated in a laboratory setting and also in an underground setting to assess the reduction in worker exposure. The goal is to reduce the noise exposure for jumbo drill operators and crew by at least 50 percent.

The jumbo drill drifter and drill string have been confirmed as prominent noise contributors to the sound level at the operator location. Prototype noise controls to address these noise sources are being fabricated and tested under laboratory conditions. Noise controls proven to be effective in the laboratory shall be field evaluated to document their effect on operator noise exposure and for their durability.

The impact of this research will be to reduce the likelihood and magnitude of hearing loss for jumbo drill operators. The amount of reduction will vary with operating conditions, but in many instances the noise controls should reduce the overexposure of the operator.