Over-exposure to noise remains a widespread, serious health hazard in the U.S. mining industry despite 25 years of regulation. Most other categories of illnesses and injuries associated with mining have improved, with the
exception of hearing loss. In order to reduce cases of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) in the mining industry, retrofit acoustic treatments and controls are being developed to subdue noise at the source. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) coal noise sample data collected from
2000 to 2005 has determined that continuous mining machines rank first among all mining equipment whose operators exceed 100% noise dosage. The continuous mining machine conveyor, used to move coal from the cutting face to the rear of the machine, has been identified as a dominant noise
source. A dual sprocket conveyor chain was tested as a potential solution. Sound power level measurements conducted at the Pittsburgh Research Laboratory (PRL) accredited reverberation chamber showed a 3 dB reduction in the A-weighted
sound power level when the dual sprocket chain was implemented. Underground results show an 8-hour Time Weighted Average (TWA8 hrs)
reduction a 3 dB for continuous mining machine operators. Utilizing this newly developed noise control, along with previously proven controls, provides continuous mining machine operators an opportunity to be within the MSHA-Permissible Exposure Limit (MSHA-PEL).
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