Mining Project: Increasing the Effectiveness of Targeted Mining Hearing Conservation Program Elements

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Principal Investigator
Start Date 10/1/2017
End Date 9/30/2022

To identify and remediate actual and perceived barriers to full implementation of hearing conservation programs at surface stone, sand, and gravel mines.

Topic Area

Research Summary

Rotary dryer in mine plant as studied for noise exposure.
Rotary dryer in mine plant as
studied for noise exposure.

Hearing conservation program (HCP) requirements have been in place in the mining industry for over 20 years, yet occupational hearing loss and personal noise exposure remain at high levels. Therefore, mine companies are continuing to implement strategies to ameliorate their workers' noise exposures and potential hearing loss.

This project identified the reasons for continued hearing loss among miners within the construct of specific hearing conservation program elements. Researchers need to understand why the hearing conservation program requirements are not reducing the incidence of occupational hearing loss so that strategies to improve effectiveness and reduce hearing loss can be developed and provided to the mining industry. The research was conducted at surface operations, specifically near processing areas; however, the overall themes discovered have broad application to heavy industry.


Noise contour plot generated by NIOSH noise mapper app
Noise contour map from prototype mobile app. 

To address this problem, area noise measurements, personal noise exposure measurements, and corresponding point-of-view videos were collected in the field. That data was analyzed and specific noise hazards were identified that related to both the area where work occurred as well as the paths that workers took throughout the working areas. Sound contour maps were provided to participating mines with recommendations for site or personnel modifications to reduce noise exposure. Several mines have already integrated recommendations based on the findings of this study.

Also, a smart device mobile application that generates sound contour maps based on area noise measurements has been developed and is in the process of final evaluation. This will allow for greater utility of area noise measurements that are currently required by hearing conservation programs. Posting these maps in various areas of the facility can improve worker comprehension and avoidance of high noise areas.

Milestones and Accomplishments




NIOSH Science Blog – Protecting Worker Health. Workshop at Internoise 2021, Washington DC – Roundtable review of practical implementation of hearing conservation methods and standards

Mining industry HCP professionals


Planned Impacts and Outcomes

The overall planned impact of this research is that surface stone, sand, and gravel mines, as well as other surface mining operations, adopt NIOSH recommendations for improving the effectiveness of hearing loss prevention programs. There are a number of scientific and translational outputs from this project. Translational outputs include primarily print and electronic media developed specifically for miners and H&S personnel. One-page informational documents, short training applications, and infographics were developed to address very specific topics with easy-to-implement solutions or suggestions.


Infographic: Now Hear This! (2020). CDC - Mining - Infographic: Now Hear This! Protect Your Hearing - NIOSH.

Azman A, Schall J (2019). Best Practices for Annual Hearing Tests. Coal Age, pp 32-33.

Azman A, Kim B (2019). Practical Use of Area Noise Measurements in Stone, Sand, and Gravel (SSG) Mines. Internoise Conference Proceedings; June 16-19; Madrid, Spain.

Azman AS, Camargo HE, Kim B (2022). Area Noise Assessment at Surface Stone, Sand, and Gravel Mines: Application for Reducing Worker Noise Exposure. Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration 39:467-483.

Azman A, Yousef E (2020). Integrating Point-of-View Video into Hearing Conservation Programs for Improved Outcomes. INTER-NOISE and NOISE-CON Congress and Conference Proceedings, NoiseCon2020, New Orleans, LA. pp. 129-137(9).

Sun K, Azman AS, Camargo HE, Dempsey PG (2019). Risk Assessment of Recordable Occupational Hearing Loss in the Mining Industry. International Journal of Audiology 58(11):761-768.

Camargo HE, Azman AS, Sun K (2019). Exposure and Area Noise Assessment of Stone, Sand, and Gravel Mining Facilities. Proceedings of INTER-NOISE 2019, Chicago, IL, August 25-30.

Sun K, Kardous CA, Shaw PB, Kim B, Mechling J, Azman A (2019). The Potential use of a NIOSH Sound Level Meter Smart Device Application in Mining Operations. Noise Control Engineering Journal 67(1):23-30.

Azman AS, Sun K (2018). Mining Hearing Conservation Programs: Do They Really Prevent Hearing Loss? Proceedings of InterNoise 2018, Chicago IL, August 27-29.

Page last reviewed: March 1, 2023
Page last updated: March 1, 2023