Effective noise exposure management
Prolonged exposure to high levels of noise can result in permanent and irreversible damage to hearing. The only effective preventative measure is to control noise exposure before hearing loss occurs. In common with most other heavy industries, mining can expose workers to high noise levels. Drills, shovels, crushers, mills, screens and many other items of mining and mineral processing plant are inherently noisy, and most require some form of operator attendance.
Noise-induced hearing loss entails substantial economic costs. As well as the financial cost, there is a reduction in quality of life for a person with severely impaired hearing. Mining companies recognise noise as a hazard requiring control, and most have noise control programs in place. However, in many cases where action has been taken to reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss, it has focussed primarily on protecting people rather than reducing noise emission by engineering means.
All mines should be able to demonstrate that the risks associated with exposure to noise are being effectively managed, particularly noise-induced hearing loss.