Organization issues new mine health standards |

Organization issues new mine health standards

Tyler Baskfield

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has issued new health standards to protect miners from hearing loss associated with prolonged exposure to damaging levels of noise.

According to MSHA, hearing loss is one of the major health problems miners face. MSHA is expecting to decrease the number of miners with hearing problems dramatically with the new standards.

“We saw some 36,000 miners now on the job were at risk of hearing loss if they were not protected,” said Alexis Herman, secretary of labor. “With the new rules, as many as two-thirds of new cases can be prevented.”

The standards implemented by MSHA will require mine operators to enroll miners in a hearing protection program if they are exposed to an average sound level of 85 decibels or more over an eight-hour period. Training, hearing tests and providing protection such as ear plugs will all be part of the program. The training will cover the danger of noise exposure, and the benefits of using hearing protection. The use of hearing protection and the hearing tests will be voluntary, but mine operators must offer the protection and the testing.

According to Steve Hafey, personnel manager at Trapper Mine in Moffat County, the new program won’t affect operations at the mine since the mine has already implemented these standards.

“The new standards shouldn’t affect the mine that much since the mine has a comprehensive hearing protection program,” said Hafey. “We measure decibel levels on a regular bases, we offer free hearing protection in areas with high decibel levels and we offer hearing testing and education.”