WorldWide Drilling Resource

26 FEBRUARY 2021 WorldWide Drilling Resource® Get Your HPD On! Adapted from Information by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Drilling professionals and helpers are exposed to high levels of noise while working. During a typical drilling operation, noise intensity for extended hours can lead to hearing loss. Finding ways to reduce noise exposure is difficult because of several factors. The noise level is constantly changing due to the location of jobs and environmental factors. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends reducing exposure and preventing hearing loss through three specific measures. The most obvious, but perhaps costly measure, is removing noise from a major source, the drill rig. Besides the drill rod, some of the loudest parts are the compressor, engine, and cooling fan. Since these parts cannot be removed from the drill rig, then reducing the noise from them is desirable, but the process might be expensive and difficult. The second measure, moving away from the noise source, takes some planning because the setup of a drill rig requires workers to be close to the hole being drilled. This may, however, be possible for short periods of time. If workers are not required to be near the drill rod, compressor, cooling fan, or engine during periods of time, they can move 6-12 feet away. This distance might require personnel to change from verbal communication to hand signals. The third measure, hearing protection devices (HPDs), is fairly inexpensive and can be worn by all. Many types are available, but the best device is one a worker will wear, keeping in mind the four Cs: clean, consistent, comfortable, and correct. Have clean hands and plugs; otherwise dirt, chemicals, or other irritants can get into the ear canal. Wear HPDs consistently when noise levels are intense. Each person’s ear canal is physically different, so a variety of HPDs should be available for comfortable fit. Insert HPDs correctly to get the most protection and noise reduction. Use the Roll, Pull, Hold method for effective ear plug insertion. Roll the plug down to a small point. Reach around behind the head to pull the ear up and back to straighten the ear canal. Insert the plug and hold 30 to 40 seconds. Once inserted, check the fit. Make sure the plug is actually in the ear canal. It takes time to get used to HPDs, just as with other forms of personal protective equipment, but the effort will be worth it. While not totally eliminating noise exposure to equipment, HPDs will lower the intensity, so consistent use is important in preventing noise-induced hearing loss. ENV