Hearing Loss and Mining


Miners have the highest incident of noise-induced hearing loss amongst all occupations.

Answer Extra: 

Nearly 80% of American miners are exposed to noise levels that exceed 85 dBA. 25% of these miners are exposed to noise levels higher than the 90 dBA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL). 

90% of all coal miners above the age of 50 have a hearing impairment. By the time coal miners retire, they are nearly guaranteed a moderate hearing loss. 

source: 
Source: R.J. Matetic. “Hearing Loss in the Mining Industry: Overview of the NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Program at the Pittsburgh Research Laboratory.” http://www.msha.gov/30CFR/62.0.htm

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), despite 25 years of regulation.

Answer Extra: 

The use of heavy equipment, the drilling of rock, and the confined work environment all contribute to high levels of noise exposure in mining. Every day, 80% of miners work where the time-weighted average (TWA) exceeds 85 dBA. Moreover, 25% are exposed to a TWA noise level that exceeds 90 dBA - the permissible exposure limit (PEL). As a result, as many as 70-90% of all miners have NIHL significant enough to be considered a disability.

source: 
Studies by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is an across-the-board risk in all industries - including mining.

Answer Extra: 

In one study, approximately 40% of noise survey samples taken for longwall occupations exceeded the Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) of 100%. Noise doses up to 786% for longwall coal mining system workers were sampled in such job classifications as shearer operator, jacksetter (shieldman), longwall foreman, and headgate (stageloader) operator(1). 

Another study found that 69% of the noise exposure of sand and gravel miners at surface and nine dredge operations was over the 85 dBA REL. The same survey reported that 48% of these miners never used hearing protectors(2),

source: 
(1) Noise exposure in longwall mining and engineering controls research. Bauer ER, DJ Podobinski, and ER Reeves [2001]. (2) Landen, D., Wilkins, S., Stephenson, M., and McWilliams, L., 2004, "Noise exposure and hearing loss among sand and gravel miners," Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, Vol. 1, pp. 532-541, August., Methods for Hearing Protection

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is permanent and irreversible.

Answer Extra: 

One NIOSH study found that by age 50, about 90% of coal miners and 49% of metal/nonmetal miners had a hearing impairment (as compared with 10% of the non-occupational noise-exposed population). Simply stated, most miners have a hearing loss by retirement.

source: 
Hearing Loss in the Mining Industry: Overview of the NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Program at the Pittsburgh Research Laboratory