Hearing Protection and Air-rotary Drilling - Part 2
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Hearing Protection and Air-rotary Drilling - Part 2

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  • Description:
    The results from the sound level measurements, the dosimeter recordings and the time-activity studies on four different air-rotary rigs indicate a wide variation of operator noise exposure during hole development. These variations appear to be dependent on the cab design and the operator’s drilling behavior. Studies have documented that exposure to high sound levels for long periods of time can cause hearing loss. The results of this study help identify the loudest parts of the drilling cycle. Sound level measurements on the four rigs show that all the rigs generate sound levels that are 90 A-weighted decibels (dB(A)) and above within 6 feet around the rigs during drilling. It is easy to conclude that some type of noise protection, such as a cab, is needed to protect the operator from overexposure to noise for an eight-hour shift of uninterrupted drilling. However, even when rigs are outfitted with cabs, operators observed in this study are being exposed to sound levels above 90 dB(A) during some activities required to complete a drilling cycle. An evaluation and comparison of the four dosimeter recordings and time-activity studies during one drilling cycle may explain why variations in operator exposure occur. Table 1 summarizes the time-weighted average (TWA) and accumulated dose percentages for each of the four operators during the time needed to complete one typical hole cycle.
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