April 2004
Volume 56    Issue 4

Worker exposure and equipment noise in large surface coal mines

Mining Engineering , 2004, Vol. 56, No. 4, pp. 16-21
Bauer, E.R.; Babich, D.R.

Prolonged exposure to noise can cause permanent damage to the auditory nerve and/or its sensory components. This damage, known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), is irreversible and makes it difficult to hear and also understand speech. NIHL is the most common occupational disease in the United States today, with 30 million workers exposed to excessive noise levels (NIOSH, 1996a). The problem is particularly severe in all areas of mining (surface, processing plants and underground) with studies indicating that 70 percent to 90 percent of miners have a NIHL large enough to be classified as a hearing disability (NIOSH, 1996b, 1997).

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