Voices Heard: NIOSH’s Hearing Loss Prevention Branch Wins Excellence Award


May 29, 2014
NIOSH Update:

Press Office Contact: Nura Sadeghpour (202) 245-0673

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR), Hearing Loss Prevention Branch (HLPB) has been given this year’s Research and Educational Excellence Award from the largest international society of professionals in the minerals industry. The award was presented during the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc.’s (SME) Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City and their first annual awards program earlier this year.

NIOSH and OMSHR’s Hearing Loss Prevention Branch is recognized for its research towards developing improved noise controls to better protect miners from noise-induced hearing loss. This year’s award, presented by SME’s health and safety committee, recognizes NIOSH research that seeks to understand the noise exposure experienced by underground workers and helps develop noise controls to reduce that exposure.

“Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common occupational illness in the United States today,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “We are honored and pleased to be recognized for research that exemplifies exceptional innovation and dedication toward advancement in technology and education for the protection and well-being of miners and their families.”

A distinguishing feature of the Hearing Loss Prevention Branch research group is that it does not stop at successful demonstrations of controls and scientific presentations. A major focus of HLPB has been on commercialization of the controls to insure that they are available for use by miners, mining companies and mining equipment manufacturers. The team has been successful in fostering commercial products that significantly reduce or prevent noise overexposures for miners.

Among the products now available as a result of the HLPB’s research are:

  • Bit isolator to provide 4-6 dB of noise reduction for the operators of roof bolting machines.
  • Dual-sprocket chain now used on more than 40% of the continuous mining machines (CMM) in the U.S. These chains reduce the noise exposure by 3 dB and reduce the likelihood of overexposure by 50%.
  • CMM coated flight bars that lower the sound levels by 3 dB and provide a major reduction in the overexposure of miners.

NIOSH has conducted hearing loss prevention research through various initiatives including surveys designed to monitor worker dose; measurements of equipment noise levels; laboratory studies to analyze promising noise controls; hearing protection device (HPD) research and recommendations for appropriate and consistent use. These studies have provided guidance and results applicable to underground coal mines using both room and pillar and longwall extraction methods and for underground metal/nonmetal mines.

To learn more about the NIOSH Hearing Loss and Prevention Branch please visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/. NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. More information can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh/.

Page last reviewed: May 29, 2014