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Noise & Hearing Protection - Development Of Two Training Exercises For Drillers
  • Published Date:
    0/1/1900
Filetype[PDF - 401.03 KB]


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  • Description:
    MORE THAN 30 MILLION EMPLOYEES each year are exposed to hazardous occupational noise, and approximately one-third of them develop permanent hearing loss (NSC, 2000). Possible explanations for the latter statistic include worker regard for noise as a mere nuisance rather than as an occupational safety and health hazard, and consequent neglect of established protective measures (e.g., hearing protection); lack of knowledge concerning noise; improper use of hearing protection; worker indifference; and inadequate training (Bauer & Babich, 2004). Many drill rigs generate high sound levels, which vary according to the type of machine, its location with respect to the physical surroundings, and the location of the sound measured around the rig. A NIOSH study measured noise output from several types of drill rigs during field investigations (Ingram & Matetic, 2003). Two types of data were recorded the actual noise generated by the drill rig at various positions around the rig and the noise to which the drill operator was exposed during the drilling cycle. For the latter, sound level measurements up to 120 dBA were recorded while hammering casing (metal on metal) in drilling a water well (Photo 1). Several types of administrative controls exist to address worker exposure to loud drill rig noise. Rotating duties to decrease exposure time and posting warning signs in high-noise work areas are two such controls. Another is the use of hearing protection. Worker use of hearing protection has been disappointing, however. One study by the University of Michigan found that construction workers used earplugs and earmuffs only between 36% and 61% of the time that they were necessary (Lusk & Kerr, 1998). In a 2001 study, OSHA reported a relatively low rate of 30.4% for use of earplugs among construction workers (Walker, 2001). Why are rates for hearing protection use so low? One explanation may be workers' lack of concern for noise in the workplace. They expect workplace noise to be a loud and inĀ¬ evitable nuisance and, therefore, accept it as part of the job. As a result, they disregard proven measures that can protect their hearing. Other workers may use hearing protection, but do so improperly. They may misguidedly remain in high-noise areas for extended periods thinking they are protected when in fact they are not. Other reasons for low use and/or misuse of hearing protection include poor education, lack of awareness and inadequate training (Nash, 2003). To address the training issue, NIOSH developed two exercises from which drillers can learn about noise, hearing loss and hearing protection. The first is an invisible ink exercise, titled "Drill Rig Incident" (DRI) (Photo 2); the second is a 3-D slide reel training aid, "Wearing Hearing Protection Properly" (WHPP) (Photo 3). DRI is an instructor-

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