Working Smart - NIOSH develops technology and products that address exposure to noise at the work site
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Working Smart - NIOSH develops technology and products that address exposure to noise at the work site

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    Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health partnered with the water well industry to develop engi neering control technologies and training products to address noise exposure at the job site. Noise induced hearing loss continues to be a problem in the well drilling industry. Research con ducted by NIOSH found that air rotary drill rigs produce sound levels more than 90 dB(A) over the course of an eight hour workday. Sounds levels above 90 dB(A), identified during hammer drilling and the hammering of casing, exposes workers to levels that can damage hearing. A typical air rotary drill rig provides no barrier, for noise and dust pro tection, between the drill s control panel and the drill stem. The development of a partial cab is the clearest example of NIOSH s research partnership with the water well industry. NIOSH researchers determined that an engineering noise control to protect the oper ator at the rig s control panel would be effective, based on typical work site conditions. Many surface rigs do not have full cabs as a result of the original equipment manufacturer design or the high cost of aftermarket products. Developed as a partial cab, the NIOSH engineer ing noise control design addressed stakeholders needs associated with cost, transport, and worker usage (Figure 1). Field tests found the partial cab effective in reducing sound levels at the rig s control panel, a typical location for a drill rig operator. Sound levels at the control panel were reduced from 104 to 96 dB(A) (Figure 2). Coupled with continued use of personal protective equipment, such as hear ing protection devices, the partial cab can help to reduce noise exposure. NIOSH researchers created a CD with informa tion about noise exposure and the partial cab. Most important to well drilling companies is information on how to construct and attach the partial cab to drill rigs. The CD can be viewed on a standard computer and includes a video of the partial cab in use on a work site. Computer aided design drawings are included on the CD and provide detail of the cab design as well as information on construction mate rials and design details. Additionally, the CD provides background infor mation on noise induced hearing loss and hearing protection devices to increase knowledge about this occupational health concern. This information can be viewed by all company employees to help promote the partial cab s importance to workers using the cab. More information on the partial cab noise control technology can be downloaded from niosh/mining NIOSH researchers also examined the health and safety training needs of workers in the ground water industry. It was quickly realized that most workers learn health and safety on the job and do not attend any sort of formal training. In addition, there is not a lot of time for daily tailgate talks or shop talks on health and safety issues. As a small business industry, the owner is often operating a drill rig along with his other employees. In general, new employees learn the job in an apprentice style sys tem. As a result, workers and owners have few opportunities to access uniform health and safety information based upon the job an outdoor work environment with daily change in work sites. With this information, NIOSH researchers devel oped two products that deliver health and safety information to fit into the daily work of well drillers. Both are information circulars and are available through download at and the NGWA Web site at publications.cfm. These circulars are: Water Well Safety Bits. This booklet provides information in a quick bites style. It is pre sented in a magazine format and can be left on
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